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YSU partners with DOE on $1M project

Will advance workforce development in battery manufacturing industry

WARREN — Youngstown State University will partner with the U.S. Department of Energy to advance workforce development efforts in the battery manufacturing and electric vehicle industry in northeast Ohio.

The $1 million project will help the development of a Midwest-based Energy Storage Workforce Innovation Center, but support the emerging tech industries “by helping supply a capable workforce” to the local region, according to an energy department release.

It’s being called a “much-anticipated pipeline” by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, for the industry that has come to define “Voltage Valley,” the nickname given here because of the tremendous investments in the electric vehicle industry.

Already, two huge investments are happening in the sector in Lordstown — the $2.3 billion next-generation electric vehicle battery-cell manufacturing plant, Ultium Cells LLC, that is jointly backed by General Motors; and South Korea’s LG Chem and Lordstown Motors Corp., which is making strides toward production in September of its battery-powered pickup truck, the Endurance, at GM’s former assembly plant.

Ryan said the partnership is a “great example of how government can work to bolster efforts on the ground” in the Mahoning Valley in the clean energy industry.

“With Lordstown Motors, BRITE Energy Innovators, the GM / LG Chem Battery Plant and Youngstown State, and others, our region is leading the world in creating the energy of the future and putting Voltage Valley on the map,” Ryan said.

BRITE CEO and President Rick Stockburger said receiving the $1 million seed funding from the outset was a partnerhsip between BRITE, YSU and Oak Ridge.

It shows, he said, “the strengths and resiliency in the region to look at the future facing economy of energy storage and vehicle electrification.”

Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., is the energy department’s largest science and energy lab.

“We are in a period of tremendous advancement in battery technologies, presenting new opportunities for electric vehicles and energy storage systems,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette said. “With these new technologies and growing industries, it is essential that we prepare a workforce that will lead the next generation of energy storage technologies into practice. Our investment will help continue the region’s reputation of meeting the nation’s manufacturing needs.”

Last week, it was announced GM committed $5 million to YSU for workforce development in partnership with Eastern Gateway Community College and funding to create the training center at YSU.

Then, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted called the center “a premier education and training center” that would help “prepare the workforce of the Valley to take advantage of this entire new industry that is developing (here).”

The funding is part of $12 million GM is required to invest in the Mahoning Valley for breaking tax credit agreements it had with the state for its former assembly plant. That amount also includes $1.5 million for the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition to support community workforce skills development in support industries that will develop as a result of technology investments. MVMC will partner with America Makes in Youngstown and BRITE Energy Innovators in Warren.

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