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Leadership changes, layoffs don’t change plans for $1.6B Michigan Gigafactory

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(The Center Square) – A Michigan-based energy group says recent layoffs and leadership changes don’t change plans to build a $1.6B battery factory in Van Buren Township called ONE Circle.

Michigan taxpayers bet $200 million on Our Next Energy Inc., a technology company that laid off 25% of its staff amid leadership changes.

The company aims to build a plant providing 2,112 jobs by 2027 to double the range of electric vehicles, use safer, more sustainable raw materials, and establish a localized supply chain.

By 2027 at full operating capacity, the company says ONE Circle will create enough cells to build the equivalent of 200,000 electric vehicle battery packs annually.

Over the weekend, the company announced leadership changes. Paul Humphries will assume the role of CEO. Humphries brings more than 40 years of manufacturing and operations experience to ONE.

“There remains an incredible need for a U.S. battery manufacturer and domestically made cells that extend range, increase energy density, and utilize abundant materials,” Humphries said in a statement.

ONE spokesman Dan Pierce told The Center Square many positions impacted were in research and development.

“The change in leadership doesn’t impact our plans or progress on ONE Circle, our battery factory in Van Buren Township,” Pierce wrote in an email.

“While decisions that impact our colleagues are always difficult, the action helps transition ONE from being an R&D-focused company to a technology supplier focused on scaling production of [Lithium iron phosphate-]-based products.”

Founder Mujeeb Ijaz became Vice-Chairman and Chief Technology Officer and investor and founding board member Faysal Sohail was appointed Chairman of the Board.

“In October, ONE began pilot production of LFP battery cells at its ONE Circle Gigafactory. The pilot line allows ONE to validate its production intent cells and develop workforce training, while sharing samples with customers for their testing purposes. ONE will launch a larger multi-GWh scale LFP line at ONE Circle next year.”

Mujeeb Ijaz, who has been chief executive officer since he founded ONE, will serve as vice-chairman of the board and take on the role of chief technology officer.

The second founding board member, Faysal Sohail, will move into the role of board chairman.

Courtney Overbey, director of communications at the Michigan Economic Development Corp., said the $200M Critical Industry Program performance-based grant is dependent partly on job creation of 120 jobs and $1.6 billion of investment.

“None of these were to be retained jobs; this project includes only new jobs,” Overbey wrote in an email.”

Overbey said ONE remains “on track” to meet milestones for its Michigan Gigafactory subsidy.

“The terms of the award to Our Next Energy include both a jobs commitment – through the CIP performance-based grant – and an investment commitment, both of which are also subject to audit and verification,” Overbey wrote. “If the company fails to achieve its commitments under the terms and conditions, then it will be required to repay all or a portion of the funds, with such repayment amounts being calculated using the formulas approved by the MSF Board.”

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