FirstEnergy, an Akron-based utility that is investing millions in Lordstown to assist an electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant jobs, has been designated one of the best utilities in the United States for fostering economic development. It’s the third year in a row Site Selection, a planning and development magazine, gave the honor to the electric company. 

Even amid the pandemic, our economic development team positively influenced 107 major projects in 2020, attracting more new jobs and more direct investment than 2019, which also was a banner year for our efforts,” said Patrick Kelly, director of economic development for FirstEnergy. 

According to Kelly, one of the larger projects is the $2.3 billion Lordstown plant, a joint venture between General Motors and South Korea’s LG Energy Solution to mass produce battery cells for multiple future GM electric vehicles

FirstEnergy is investing $31 million to expand and strengthen its transmission line to the facility to support the project. The two-phase project is a backup line to the state Route 45 plant, new substation jobs and new high-voltage transmission lines. 

A total capacity, the 3.1 million-square-foot plant on 158 acres would employ up to 1,000 people. Production is expected to begin in early 2022. 

FirstEnergy launched a new economic development website, www.feeconomic-development.com, in 2020 and sponsored webinars on the pandemic’s economic impact, focusing on how businesses in its six-state service area can encourage and facilitate foreign direct investment part of their overall economic development efforts. 

The firm’s economic development team can also assist with location analysis and community research, site tours, permitting and regulations expertise, information on available sites and buildings, demographic, workforce, and business establishment data, introductions to local, regional, and state officials, and information about local and state economic development incentives. 

Many times, the best economic development assistance we can provide is being an active liaison with FirstEnergy’s ten utilities, especially when it comes to ensuring the local grid can handle the added electrical usage any new projects produce,” Kelly said. 

Site Selection magazine, published by Atlanta-based Conway Data Inc., delivers expansion planning information to 47,000 executives of fast-growing firms. 

Source: Warren Tribune Chronicle