Infrastructure funds for electric vehicles support the region | News, Sports, Jobs


It’s been a really exciting few years for Warren’s economic revitalization, and we think it’s only just begun. In this “Tension Valley”, small businesses are reinvesting in their community, young people are signing leases, and innovators are reaching out to us daily. It is a dynamism that continues to grow in our region. Even with a lingering pandemic hiatus for more than two years, all signs are pointing towards us maintaining much of the economic momentum we had in the bank until then. Simply put, this community is about to bounce back even stronger than before.

From our windows at BRITE, all we see is opportunity. This is why we are committed to getting startups and innovative companies off the ground. For a city full of potential, sometimes all it takes is a little help. For many in our community (as well as our state and country), this push has come in the form of essential bipartisan legislation – the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA ). There is much to celebrate in this legislation as it will directly invest in communities like Warren, thanks to the dedication of the Ohio Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown.

There are tons of critical elements in this legislation that will support Ohio’s economy throughout the package – from funding to fix our roads and bridges to building clean energy facilities to ensure that communities resist floods and forest fires. We at BRITE remain very excited for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program within the IIJA. The program is allocating more than $140 million to Ohio to develop our electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure over the next five years. This investment responds to the increased demand for electric vehicles across the country and will go a long way to ensuring they are commercially available and viable for all Americans.

As our region knows, electric vehicles are exceptionally successful in generating economic activity. The creation of electric vehicles and their batteries is above all a job creation engine that our region is likely to become a leader in production. We are excited about the opportunities with Foxconn and optimistic about continued battery production growth as construction wraps up at Ultium Cells LLC. Second, as many of our customers at BRITE can attest, there is substantial interest from private entities to invest in renewable energy solutions to everyday problems. Funding for the construction of a national electric vehicle charging network by the IIJA will go a long way towards creating a more resilient economy that will generate thousands of sustainable jobs. Finally, electric vehicles create a cleaner home in which we invest 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 establishing a foundation for new businesses and helping them realize their potential. Because of our experience in this area, I look forward to seeing Ohio become an even more attractive place to set up shop due to the investments allocated to the IIJA.

In a bipartisan way, I applaud Senator Portman and his colleagues on both sides of the aisle who were able to pass legislation that will have a significant and direct impact on the lives of Ohioans. It has been decades since such an important bill became law, and it comes at the perfect 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 CEO of BRITE Energy Innovators, Ohio’s only energy-focused incubator located in downtown Warren.

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