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BRITE receives $500K in federal relief money

Funds will create 200 jobs, retain 150 jobs and generate $100M in private investment

WARREN — A federal investment of $571,355 in BRITE Energy Innovators will enable the technology and energy storage startup incubator to expand its network outside of Ohio and acquire lab equipment to serve the growing e-mobility sector.

The funding award announced Thursday will allow the organization — the only startup accelerator of its kind in Ohio — to add staff, including an expert in battery technology, said Sara Daugherty, director of partnerships for BRITE.

Announced by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the funds, matched by $155,699 in local dollars, are expected to create 200 jobs, retain 150 jobs and generate $100 million in private investment over the next 36 months.

The funding is especially critical now, Daugherty said, as BRITE has experienced a tremendous growth for service since January 2020.

That timeline coincides with the site selection announcement of General Motors’ and LG Chem’s joint-venture, electric vehicle battery-cell manufacturing plant in Lordstown, and lines up with developments at Lordstown Motors Corp., which bought GM’s former automaking plant in November 2019 to retool to make electric trucks.

Also, Thomas Steel Strip announced last month its plans to invest $8.5 million in the Warren plant and hire 42 new workers to support its entry into the rechargeable battery market.

Battery technology and electric vehicles are industries many in the Mahoning Valley believe will transform the local economy, one that is prime to continued growth as the automobile and other industries evolve.

The local funding, Daugherty said, will allow BRITE to bring on three new people, including two support staff members full-time and expand its reach to startups in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Also, about $125,000 is planned for new battery and fuel cell equipment at BRITE’s laboratory in downtown Warren. A waiting list already exists to use it, Daugherty said.

“As soon as we have it, we will implement it immediately because of the pent-up demand,” Daugherty said.

Also, Cleveland’s Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET) will receive $624,316 to provide small- to medium-sized manufacturers technical assistance they need to overcome the impact of the pandemic.

That project is expected to create 100 jobs, retain 500 jobs and spur $10 million in private investment.

The funds come from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2.2 trillion bill approved by Congress shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began and signed into law March 27, 2020, by then-President Donald Trump.

Said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, who was a driving force behind the establishment of BRITE, formerly known as the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center, “the more than 200 additional jobs BRITE will create and the more than 100 jobs MAGNET will create in northeast Ohio are a perfect example of the return on investment we get when we invest in economies of the future. As we look to overcome the economic hardships created by COVID-19, these awards will be critical to the success and prosperity of our communities.”

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