Panasonic celebrates breaking ground on battery plant in DeSoto

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 10:26 PM CDT
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DeSoto, Kan. (KCTV) – The abandoned Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant is set to be turned into a cutting-edge factory as Panasonic celebrated breaking ground on a 605-acre EV battery plant in DeSoto, Kansas, on Wednesday.

Boosters claim the project will bring 16,500 construction jobs and 4,000 more at the plant.

“You’re going to see this whole area just transformed from what it has been to a really thriving robust area,” said Governor Laura Kelly.

On Monday, a developer announced a name change for the 9,000-acre area, now calling it Astra Enterprise Park. 2,000 acres were transferred to Johnson County Parks and Recreation. Panasonic will utilize 605 acres for its $4 billion plant, which will make lithium batteries for electronic vehicles. The company didn’t mention the nearly $1 billion in incentives for the state, but it did emphasize the bipartisan effort behind it.

“We looked at over a dozen states,” said Allan Swan, President of Panasonic Energy of North America. “There’s not many places where there’s a non-partisan approach that you’ve all done for this project.”

Representative Sharice Davids said a lot of the key characteristics in Panasonic are shown by the state of Kansas.

“Panasonic’s culture of investing in people as much as they’re investing in innovation is something that I think they saw here in Kansas as well,” said Davids.

The groundbreaking came just days before some of the key players are up for re-election. It also came with a $25,000 check from Panasonic to the local school district.

“What excites me most about this project is our ability to energize the students around career opportunities that will open them to a cutting edge field like electric vehicles,” said Megan Myungwon Lee, Chairwoman & CEO of Panasonic North America.

Production at the plant is scheduled to start in 2025.