Big changes are on the way to a very small town.

The rumors are flying after an unknown company stepped in to buy hundreds of acres of land with plans to build the country's largest manufacturing facility.

So far the project remains mostly a mystery. It's only been referred to as "Project Tim."

Even local officials said they are obligated to keep quiet for now.

The monstrous undertaking will cost $5 billion to build and will measure out to 24 million square feet.

It is something that will stand out against the rural backdrop just outside the village of Durand on E. Pittsburg Road.

"My fear is that it's going to fundamentally change the culture of this area, which is primarily agricultural," said Perry MacNeil, resident.

He was born and raised in Durand. He once moved away, but then quickly came back because he said he loves living in the tight knit community.

Now a tight lipped community wants to set up shop and they aren't revealing a whole lot about their plans.

"They're trying to purchase over 1,000 acres of property to build this factory, which is going to be the largest facility in the country based on what we're hearing so far," MacNeil said.

The city said it's classified as a renewable energy project and will result in the production of clean energy.

On Durand's website it said the facility would be unlike any other in the world.

The city said it's the perfect place because of the location close to Lansing and Flint.

"But there's no guarantee there will be jobs," MacNeil said.

The city of Durand said there will be jobs with about 800 full time on-site employees.

That's on top of the 10.5 million hours it would take to construct the facility.

Vernon Township would not comment on the specifics of the project, but said the mystery project is still trying to acquire the land it needs to make it happen.

Durand officials claim once they are in the final stages the people who live in Durand and Vernon Township will be able to voice their concerns.

MacNeil thinks by then it could be too late.

"This is tearing this local community apart because of the secrecy and the no transparency," he said.

John Schultes, CEO of New Steel International Inc., said his Ohio based company is the managing partner for a large group of companies developing the project.

He said it could be 2018 before anything official is announced on Project Tim and financing the project is a major issue.

The project is expected to create at least 1,000 manufacturing jobs if it is built, Schultes said.

Schultes said 70 percent of steel used in the United States is imported and this project would address that issue. He added most of the steel will likely be used by the auto industry.

One resident, Barry Kelley, said the thought of the addition is exciting.

"I think it's great. The more jobs you can get, the better," Kelley said. "We just don't have that much in town. You can see the town is kinda dead. We just need more people to come back here and spend their money."

Dead Meadows agrees. He owns a dealership in the city and is planning to expand.

"It's awesome actually. It would create a lot of jobs, boost the community here," Meadows said.

City leaders said they signed a non-disclosure agreement regarding the development.

Copyright 2017 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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