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EV innovation hub comes to Decatur

A pair of electric vehicles charge outside of the Illinois State Capitol Complex. In recent sessions, the state legislature has passed laws like REV Illinois and others to promote the EV economy in Illinois.

DECATUR — Governor JB Pritzker joined local leaders to announce plans to expand the state’s electric vehicle ecosystem: The TCCI Electric Vehicle Innovation Hub.

A new electric compressor manufacturing facility from Decatur-based TCCI is just one aspect of the plans. Pritzker also announced the Climatic Center for Innovation and Research, where researchers will test the capabilities of electric vehicles, as well as the EV and Energy Workforce Training Academy at Richland Community College.

“These investments are lifting up our talented workforce and demonstrating to the world that Illinois is once again open for business,” Pritzker said in a press conference at the groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday.

Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Kristen Richards, said the trio of investments will boost all aspects of the EV supply chain in Illinois.

“Decatur’s Innovation Hub will serve the lifecycle of EV manufacturing and innovation, building up a workforce, advancing research and solidifying Illinois’ reputation as a national leader in the EV and clean energy space,” Richards said.

Funding for this endeavor comes partly from the Reimagining Energy and Vehicles in Illinois Act, which is aimed at growing the clean energy and EV economies in the state. TCCI was the first recipient of a grant under the act.

EV and Energy Workforce Training Academy at Richland Community College will be a two-year program, but once they finish, Richland students will have the option to pursue bachelor’s degrees at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign or Northern Illinois University with two more years of schooling.

“We know this project will not be successful unless we have a trained workforce,” Richland Community College president Chris Valdez said. “We are laying the foundation of a workforce that will grow this sector for years to come.”

At the press conference, TCCI president Richard Demirjian announced that in addition to partnerships with the University of Illinois’ Grainger College of Engineering and the College of ACES and with Northern Illinois University, the EV training academy is also pursuing agreements with the University of Illinois Springfield, Illinois State University, Chicago State University and Governor State University, all of which will be finalized by the time production begins at TCCI’s plant in fall 2024.

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Owen Henderson

Owen Henderson covers arts and culture, as well as LGBTQ issues for Illinois Public Media News. He studied journalism, Spanish and theater at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and has worked with Illinois Public Media in various capacities since 2021.

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