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Valley offers ideal location for new plant

The exciting new Mahoning Valley business venture under development by General Motors and its South Korean partner, LG Energy Solution, is expected to begin volume production of electric-vehicle batteries in quickly approaching months.

The $2.3 billion, 2.8 million-square-foot battery-cell manufacturing plant that will operate under the name “Ultium Cells LLC” in Lordstown is expected to employ some 1,100 workers when it is up and running in 2022 in our Mahoning Valley.

The plant is just one of several new EV battery plants being developed by GM and its partners. Indeed, the electric-vehicle industry is expected to be enormous, and our Mahoning Valley has been in on the ground floor nearly from Day 1.

In all, GM and its partners already have announced plans for $35 billion in EV investments through 2025, including 20 new battery, electric vehicles for the North American market and 30 models globally.

We are thrilled that our region is part of these big plans.

Now, in an effort to shift aggressively toward integration of the key components needed for manufacture of the batteries and motors, the Detroit automaker is forming yet another joint venture, this one with Posco Chemical of South Korea. These companies will work together to process cathode active materials, or CAMs, the energy center of an EV battery that amounts to 40 percent of the cost.

This new partnership will mean construction of yet another North American plant, this one to manufacture battery materials as it brings more steps in the electric-vehicle supply chain under its umbrella.

GM officials said earlier this month that details of the venture still are being worked out, including investment amounts and the plant location, but it’s expected to be announced sometime in the first quarter of 2022. The latest plant will employ hundreds of people and will start making materials in 2024, said Doug Parks, GM’s global product development and supply chain head.

The new GM / Posco plant will supply four North American battery-cell factories that GM plans to build. Two of those locations have been announced — Lordstown and Spring Hill, Tenn. We can only presume that the company would hope to build the components in a location close to one of these two plants.

Lordstown has much available property, workforce and, as the saying goes, location, location, location.

Knowing well the strong workforce of the Mahoning Valley, the affordable cost of living here and the location that is easily accessible to good highways and centrally located between enormous population centers in America, General Motors and its new partner would be wise to give our Valley serious consideration for its latest plant.

A northeast Ohio location is relatively close to GM’s other designated electric-vehicle plants in Michigan.

Additionally, Warren is home to BRITE Energy Innovators, the state’s only energy storage and clean energy startup incubator.

Also, our region offers an already well-trained workforce with a long history of auto manufacturing, along with the facilities to train new, potential laborers. In fact, GM already committed $6.5 million to local educational facilities and the local manufacturers coalition to support workforce development efforts.

That money was part of a settlement reached with the state after GM broke its tax credit agreements when it closed its former automaking plant in Lordstown. Specifically, the settlement called for GM to invest $5 million at Youngstown State University for workforce development in partnership with Eastern Gateway Community College and $1.5 million to the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition to support community workforce skills development.

Indeed, General Motors could maximize on that investment by taking full advantage of the skills developed for the local workforce using its own funding.

It could be a win-win for the Valley and for the company if the workforce is trained to slide right into hundreds — even thousands — of additional jobs, should a battery component plant come to our area.

We urge the company and its partner to seriously consider the Mahoning Valley and all we have to offer.

editorial@vindy.com

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