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IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT | Mahoning Valley is charging into the future

An electric vehicle revolution is taking place here in the Voltage Valley, and with it is creating new opportunities for economic development and innovation through sound policy.
Michael Rulli 07232020
State Sen. Michael Rulli, R-Salem

Every major automotive analyst predicts the future of transportation is electric. Ohio has long been a leading state in American auto manufacturing, and we are charged to keep it that way. 

An all-electric future brings with it the opportunity to create jobs along the electric-vehicle supply chain for Ohio’s skilled manufacturing workforce. In the last year alone, we’ve attracted jobs and billions of dollars in investments from major auto and tech companies. We will be assembling batteries here at General Motors’ new manufacturing facility in Lordstown. Batteries, not engines, will power Workhorse delivery vehicles and trucks from Lordstown Motors.

And with the introduction of my bill establishing an electric vehicle charging station grant rebate program through the Ohio Department of Transportation, we are finding ways to expand our electric charging infrastructure across the state. 

You can see why the Mahoning Valley has been rechristened 'Voltage Valley.' This is our future.

Building batteries in Ohio will only enhance our state’s role as a leader in the fast-growing electric car industry. Batteries aren’t just at the core of how electric vehicles function — they’re the component where innovation can make the most significant difference in cost, choice and performance.

Advancing battery technology has already brought costs down. We’ve seen it with GM’s Ultium platform, which has dropped battery costs by 40 percent with the potential to make them as much as 60 percent cheaper by mid-decade. GM’s new facility, currently under construction, will mass-produce Ultium battery cells for GM's electric vehicles and create more than 1,100 new high-tech, good-paying jobs in Northeast Ohio. They’re hiring to fill those positions now. 

As Ohio builds on this momentum to grow electrification efforts, I hope we will continue to work closely with companies like GM and Workhorse, who are on the cutting edge of research and technology. Education investments will also play a critical role in preparing Ohioans for these exciting career opportunities. For a great example of this, look no further than the work being done at Youngstown State University creating the YSU Energy Storage Innovation and Training Center to advance workforce development for the emerging industries in Voltage Valley. 

It’s not just about job creation, either. Transportation energy accounts for about one-third of all the energy we use in the U.S., making it the second-highest expense for families, behind only housing energy bills. Reducing the cost of electric vehicles through advancements in battery technology will get more Ohioans behind the wheel of an electric vehicle, saving drivers money while improving air quality. 

An electric vehicle revolution is taking place here in the Voltage Valley, and with it is creating new opportunities for economic development and innovation through sound policy. Together, we can make sure that Ohio is the battery of the electric vehicle industry for years to come.

State Sen. Michael Rulli, R-Salem, represents the 33rd District, which encompasses Columbiana and Mahoning counties.