Dow Chemical announces 100 new jobs at Trump rally

Chad Livengood Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Grand Rapids — President-elect Donald Trump used a post-election victory rally here Friday night to let the chairman of Dow Chemical Co. announce plans to create 100 jobs in Midland and bring back another 100 positions from its foreign operations.

Dow Chemical Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris said the Midland-based chemical giant would build a new research and development center in its mid-Michigan hometown.

“We’re going to invest in a new state-of-the-art innovation center in Michigan,” Liveris said on stage at Trump’s rally at the DeltaPlex Arena near Grand Rapids.

The company said late Friday the facility would lead to the creation of 100 jobs and “repatriating” 100 other jobs from its global operations to Michigan. Liveris said the facility would keep “several hundred” jobs in the Great Lakes State.

Dow Chemical’s chairman credited Trump’s pro-business policies for the company’s investment decision.

“We could have waited,” Liveris said. “We could have put it anywhere in the world. ... We’re going to use American hard work and American dreams and we’re going to fight for the Dow company in the U.S.A.”

The new Dow facility’s research will center around the development of personal care products, energy-saving technologies and creating materials for the automotive and autonomous transportation industries, according to the company.

Before Liveris came on stage, the president-elect said he’s appointing the Australian-born Dow CEO to chair his American Manufacturing Council.

“You’re paving the way through your administration your policies to make it easier to do business in this country,” Liveris told Trump. “Not a red tape country, but a red carpet country for American business. That’s what we have to do.”

Trump has said he wants to cut what he considers America’s excessively high corporate tax rate of 38.9 percent to 15 percent so companies will stop moving abroad. The U.S. corporate rate is the third highest in the world, according to the Tax Foundation.

“If we get our taxes down to 15 percent ... nobody’s going to leave,” Trump said.

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Liveris did not say how the Michigan expansion plans would fit with Dow’s ongoing multibillion-dollar merger with rival Delaware-based DuPont. He made the announcement almost six months after Dow Chemical announced in late June it would cut 700 jobs from its Midland workforce of roughly 6,400 people as part of its drive to cut costs globally following its acquisition of Dow Corning Corp.

The company’s news release did not say when it would break ground on the new research facility. Company spokesman Jarrod Erpelding said the firm is “in the very early stages of developing specific plans and time lines for the center.”

The Dow Chemical announcement came about a week after Trump struck a deal with Carrier Corp. to keep about 1,000 jobs at a furnace manufacturing plant in Indiana from being more to Mexico.

“That’s what’s going to happen folks,” Trump said. “You’re going to get jobs. They’re coming back. They’re going to come back to Michigan.”

Members of the American Manufacturing Council will be announced next week, Trump said.

Trump held the campaign-style rally Friday night as part of his national “thank you” tour of states that the New York businessman won in last month’s presidential election.

Michigan proved to be among Trump’s crucial wins after the Republican captured the swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Iowa and Ohio in last month’s elections.

Trump’s arrival in west Michigan came hours after the state Supreme Court denied an appeal from Green Party candidate Jill Stein, effectively ending her quest to recount Trump’s narrow 10,704-vote victory of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“The recount is over,” Michigan GOP chair Ronna Romney McDaniel declared while warming up the crowd.

During his speech, Trump turned to education, vowing to improve student performance and “put students and parents first.” Trump let education secretary designate Betsy DeVos address the hometown west Michigan crowd, calling her “one of the top education reformers” in the country and kissing her on the cheek as she took over the podium.

The 58-year-old philanthropist pledged that she and Trump would seek to “make education great again.”

“The answer is local control,” DeVos said. “It’s listening to parents and it’s giving more choices.”

Demonstrators briefly disrupted her speech as she criticized the voluntary Common Core curriculum standards that the DeVos-supported Great Lakes Education Project supported but she said she opposes. DeVos said she wants states to “set their own high standards” and end Common Core, which has been criticized by Trump and social conservatives.

“All I ask for is an open mind,” she said.

Brothers Paul and Brandon Vezmar drove to Grand Rapids from northwest Indiana to hear the president-elect speak to a packed crowd in the 5,000-seat basketball arena.

Paul Vezmar, a 33-year-old salesman from Crowne Point, Ind., said he’s optimistic about the country’s future since Trump won the presidency.

“Look at the stocks,” Vezmar said, noting stock market surge since the Nov. 8 election. “Stocks are up, people’s energy is up, patriotism is up.”

Brandon Vezmar, a Austin, Texas-based political communications consultant, had a less cheery outlook on the forthcoming Trump presidency based on some of Trump’s post-election pronouncements “softened” stance on mass deportations of illegal immigrants.

“I think he does appear to be backpedaling on some issues,” Vezmar said. “It’s important that the people hold him to account and follow through on his campaign promises.”

Vezmar, 36, said Trump’s consideration of one-time critic Mitt Romney for secretary of state is “concerning.”

“He didn’t campaign as a centrist, so he needs to stop setting up his Cabinet as one,” Brandon Vezmar said.

Trump’s thank-you tour began last week with a rally in Indianapolis. This week, he has stopped in Fayetteville, North Carolina; Des Moines, Iowa; and Louisiana earlier Friday.

Trump had ended his presidential campaign in the early morning hours of Election Day, Nov. 8, with a rally at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, where he was joined by his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

“We’re hours away from a once-in-a-lifetime change,” he told thousands of supporters at that rally — his eighth campaign stop in Michigan during the election cycle.

That early morning stop in Grand Rapids came on the heels of a rally Trump held at the DeltaPlex arena in Walker, just outside the Grand Rapids city limits, two days earlier.