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Electric vehicle infrastructure funds support region

It’s been a truly exciting few years for economic revitalization in Warren, and we believe it’s just beginning. In this “Voltage Valley,” small businesses are reinvesting in their community, young people are signing leases, and innovators are reaching out to us daily. It’s a vibrancy that is continually growing across our region. Even with a lingering disruption of the pandemic for more than two years, all signs are pointed toward us maintaining much of the economic momentum that we had in the bank until that point. Simply put, this community is poised to bounce back even stronger than before.

From our front windows at BRITE, all we see is opportunity. That’s the reason we are dedicated to getting startups and innovative businesses off the ground. For a city full of potential, sometimes all that’s needed is a small push. For many in our community (and our state and country) that push has come in the form of one critical bipartisan law — the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). There’s much to celebrate in this law because it will invest directly into communities like Warren, thanks to the dedication of Ohio Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown.

There are tons of critical components in this legislation that will bolster Ohio’s economy throughout the package — from funding to fix our roads and bridges to constructing clean energy installations to ensuring communities are resilient to floods and wildfires. At BRITE, we remain most eager for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program within the IIJA. The program allocates over $140 million to Ohio to build out our electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure over the next five years. This investment responds to the increased demand for EVs across the country and will go a long way in ensuring that they are commercially available and viable to all Americans.

As our region knows, electric vehicles are exceptionally successful at generating economic activity. First and foremost, creating electric vehicles and their batteries is a job-creation engine that our region is likely to become a leader in producing. We are thrilled about the opportunities with Foxconn and optimistic that battery production will continue to grow as construction is wrapping up at Ultium Cells LLC. Secondly, as many of our clients at BRITE can attest, there is substantial interest from private entities to invest in renewable energy solutions to everyday problems. The funding allocated to building out a national electric vehicle charging grid by the IIJA will go a long way in creating a more resilient economy that will generate thousands of lasting jobs. Finally, EVs create a cleaner home in which we invest ourselves and raise our families.

Additionally, this funding signals to entrepreneurs, developers and small businesses that the future of development and innovation is here in the Mahoning Valley. BRITE specializes in securing a foundation for new businesses and helping them meet their potential. Because of our experience in this realm, I am eager to see Ohio become an even more enticing place to open up shop because of the investments allocated in the IIJA.

In a bipartisan way, I applaud Sen. Portman and his colleagues on both sides of the aisle who were able to pass a law that will make a meaningful, direct impact into the lives of Ohioans. It has been decades since a piece of legislation this important has become law, and it comes at the ideal time. As northeast Ohio has independently set itself up for success, we can now expect to ride the wave of investment and growth generated by this law. The message is clear: Ohio is ready. Come grow with us.

Rick Stockburger is president and chief executive officer of BRITE Energy Innovators, Ohio’s only energy-focused incubator located in downtown Warren.

rick@brite.org

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