“The sun does not always shine in West Virginia, but the people always do,” President John F. Kennedy once said.
That quote was true on Tuesday during the opening of the new GreenPower Motor Company manufacturing facility in South Charleston. Despite the downpour of rain, several community members were in attendance, as well as local and state stakeholders.
GreenPower, a leading manufacturer and distributor of zero-emission, electric-powered, medium and heavy-duty vehicles, such as its Type D BEAST and Type A Nano BEAST school buses, cut the ribbon at its new manufacturing facility, which is home to the company’s school bus manufacturing operations east of the Mississippi River. The 80,000-square-foot facility expands on GreenPower’s current manufacturing footprint.
The new facility in South Charleston, which will begin operations in September, provides the capability to manufacture 150 electric school buses per quarter by next year.
“Today marks a significant milestone for GreenPower as we continue to live the vision of advancing the adoption of purpose-built, zero-emission school buses. Through this new facility we will be able to exponentially increase our production to meet the increased demand for all-electric school buses,” stated Brendan Riley, president and director at GreenPower, citing recent public funding from both the state and federal levels and state climate change regulations as sources of the increased demand. “The work we’re doing in South Charleston is a testament to GreenPower’s mission and allows us to be well-positioned as the leader nationwide in the transition to clean, electric and safer transportation.”
In addition to Riley, the event featured several West Virginia leaders, who spoke on the importance and timeline of the plant opening. From its concept, the manufacturing plant took 13 months to complete.
- South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens
- West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice
- Dan Utech, chief of staff to EPA Administrator Michael Regan
- Deputy State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus
- Lt. Gov. and West Virginia State Senate President Craig Blair
- Speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates Roger Hanshaw
- West Virginia State Delegate Christopher Toney
- Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango
- Mitch Carmichael, West Virginia secretary of economic development
- Lucia Valentine, state coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force
The main takeaways of the event highlighted how the facility brings more jobs to the state. A press release said the new plant is expected to bring 200 new clean-energy jobs to the area, and up to 900 when it reaches full production.
“We have been incredibly excited to see GreenPower make its new home in West Virginia,” Hanshaw said. “Not only did they quickly contribute to the community and get to work right away on a training program to hire qualified local employees, but they also demonstrate to the rest of America and the rest of the world that West Virginia has a 21st-century economy, and we are open to all business endeavors.”
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Salango noted that instead of just making the vehicles in West Virginia, GreenPower also wants to keep some of the vehicles in the state for students to benefit from as they travel to and from school.
“Today marks a milestone for GreenPower, but it also marks a major milestone for West Virginia as well,” Gov. Justice said. “Since I took office, we’ve focused on transforming West Virginia’s image. Part of the way we’re doing that is by embracing all the new technologies that are at our fingertips, and GreenPower opening their manufacturing facility in West Virginia is yet another exciting project that will help us move our state forward and change our image. As we continue to diversify our economy, manufacturing zero-emission school buses in West Virginia will open up a world of opportunities for our state. Not only will it bring hundreds of great paying jobs to the Kanawha Valley, but the ripple effects on our state’s economy will be massive. I can’t thank them enough for their commitment to our state and for believing that West Virginia is the best place to do business.”
Also this year, Justice signed into law HB 4571, which increased the state’s School Foundation Allowance by 10 percent for using an electric school bus and an additional 5 percent for the portion of buses manufactured in West Virginia.
“I drive for Raleigh County Schools and the county traveled more than a million miles last year, getting our local kids to and from school and sporting events, and as a bus operator myself, I think it’s just incredible to see high-quality, efficient and safe buses being made right here in the Mountain State,” Toney said at the event.
The event concluded with a ribbon cutting by Riley and Mayor Mullens.