By Cody Roark
The Rust Belt is banking on becoming a hub for electric vehicles. The region is beginning a new plan to become a research and production hub for electric vehicles. The Rust Belt wants to restart its own economy by combining its industrial past with the latest technology.
General Motors recently shut down a huge plant in Lordstown, Ohio. The community doesn’t want this setback to have the same effects as the steel mill industry collapse in the area 40 years ago. This new initiative is already underway as GM has announced a joint venture earlier this month to hire over 1,100 people at a new plant. The new plant will be one of the largest electric vehicle battery cell factories in the world. More good news for the Rust Belt comes as the Lordstown plant, that shut down in March, has been sold to another company that plans to start manufacturing electric trucks by late 2020.
The Youngstown area already has an electric battery testing lab and businesses focused on energy and manufacturing through 3-D printing technology. Youngstown State University is beginning construction on a new advanced manufacturing technology center in order to train students to work in the electric vehicle industry. However, Youngstown will be facing heavy competition from other places that are already in the electric vehicle industry. Detroit, the Silicon Valley, and even China will all be rivals for the blue-collar community.
Lordstown Motor Corporation, the company that bought the GM plant that shut down, has plans to start making electric trucks by the end of 2020. However, the company needs more investors before it can begin manufacturing. The CEO, Steve Burns, wants to start out with only 400 workers upon opening the plant. He does have bigger plans in store, though. Burns wants to bring in other like-minded companies to assist in becoming a center for electric vehicle production. The plan even includes the possibility of a new fleet of electric mail trucks for the U.S. Postal Service.
The future for the Rust Belt is uncertain. This plan is definitely ambitious and good for the community, but there are plenty of challenges ahead. It will be tough for the area to rebrand itself as a hub for the electric automotive industry. Competing with other companies that already have investors and equipment for manufacturing these vehicles will be one of the hardest obstacles for the region to overcome. It may be hard, but the community is determined to make it work and carve out a future for themselves.