Graphite One commits to hiring, workforce training in Mahoning Valley region

WEATHERSFIELD — The company that wants to build a $435 million manufacturing plant here to produce essential material for electric vehicle batteries has committed to prioritizing hiring and workforce training in the region.

Meanwhile, its president and CEO was part of a select group of industry leaders invited to the White House by President Joe Biden to talk about job creation and investment, including in the critical mineral sector.

Anthony Huston was at the capitol the same day Biden announced tariffs on several goods from China intended to protect U.S. manufacturers and workers.


Graphite One said it is developing project labor agreements with local construction unions and has received letters of support from more than two dozen organizations in Ohio, including universities engaged in technology and workforce development, as well as projects that seek to build-out renewable energy infrastructure in disadvantaged communities.

Representatives already have met with the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, a group of local businesses and education / training partners that focuses on workforce development for manufacturers.

Guy Coviello, president / CEO of the Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber, met with a company representative May 11 in Florida. The two played golf and shared a cart for 18 holes, giving Coviello plenty of opportunity to talk about workforce, from the manufacturers coalition to Youngstown State University to the career centers in Trumbull and Mahoning counties and the Regional Workforce Coalition.

And “about how everybody in this community comes together to address workforce needs,” Coviello said.

“Me being able to convey that to him really opened their eyes and made them feel more comfortable about coming to this community,” he said.

“It’s rare you would encounter a company that doesn’t say workforce isn’t a No. 1 issue, so it’s important within the confines of being honest and realistic” not to overpromise, Coviello said.

Graphite One, based in Canada, announced in March that a subsidiary, Graphite One (Alaska), signed a 50-year lease for 85 acres at the former Defense National Stockpile Center on Warren Avenue to build a highly mechanized manufacturing plant to produce graphite anode material needed by EV makers.

It’s part of the company’s plan to complete a domestic U.S. supply chain for natural and synthetic graphite material that is nonexistent at the moment, but rather all coming from China.

Graphite One expects the facility would employ about 175 people to start, which would be around 2026 if all goes as planned. At full production capacity, anticipated to be around 2036, the plant would employ about 625 people.

Construction and jobs, however, remain subject to financing.

In April, Mike Schaffner, Graphite One’s senior vice president of operations, said the company is considering various financing options.

“As far as financing goes, we’ve got to raise the funds, and we’re talking to institutions for that, and it’s looking positive. I can’t say as to who and where because it’s not signed,” he said.


Huston said he was honored to represent Graphite One in the May 14 meeting, which “underscores that projects like Graphite One’s are important in so many ways — from industrial investment and job creation to the renewable energy transition, technology development and national security.”

It came on the heels of company officials completing the initial planning sessions for the battery anode active material production plant in Weathersfield, and as the company continues to make progress on two U.S. Department of Defense grant projects.

Ahead of the meeting, Biden announced new tariffs on Chinese EVS and batteries, solar cells, medical equipment and other goods.

Under the White House action, tariffs on EVs from China will quadruple, from 25% to 100% this year.

There are very few EVs from China in the U.S., but the Biden administration and U.S. automakers worry low-priced, heavily subsidized EVs could soon flood the U.S. market. China’s global exports of EVs grew by 70% from 2022 to 2023.

While Chinese EVs are largely a future threat, tariffs on EV batteries may have a more immediate impact because China dominates mining and processing of critical minerals such as lithium, cobalt and graphite used in EV batteries.

The tariff on natural graphite, meanwhile, will increase from zero to 25% in 2026.


The U.S.-based supply chain, according to the company, is anchored by a natural graphite mine on the Seward Peninsula north of Nome, Alaska. The mine, the company states citing the U.S. Geological Survey, is the largest graphite deposit in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world.

Material mined at the site, when it’s operational, would be shipped by barge, then by train to the plant in Weathersfield, where it and the artificial graphite would be used to make anode material.

The mine won’t be ready until at least 2030, according to Schaffner, but that won’t stop production from starting here first, sometime around 2026 if all goes as planned.

First, the company must complete a feasibility study on the mine and processing facility, and get all necessary environmental permits.

The plan also includes a recycling facility to reclaim graphite and the other battery materials, to be co-located in Weathersfield, according to the company.

Have an interesting story? Contact Business Editor Ron Selak Jr. by email at rselak@tribtoday.com. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribToday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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