Growing green: Why Illinois' booming clean tech economy brought us to Libertyville

  • Megha Lakhchauras

    Megha Lakhchauras

 
By Megha Lakhchaura
Guest columnist
Posted2/17/2021 1:00 AM

After an exhaustive nationwide search to find a new spot for our headquarters and electric vehicle (EV) charger manufacturing facility, the EVBox Group has settled on a perfect locale that boasts deep infrastructure, a strong workforce and -- most importantly -- an interest in green technology innovation: right here in Libertyville.

Since moving last fall from New York City to the former Motorola site on Libertyville's Innovation Park campus, we have now hired local residents for jobs in engineering, manufacturing, legal, human resources, operations and more.

 

So why'd we come more than 800 miles straight west after spending over three years in New York? The answer is simple: we wanted to be in a state that is looking to take advantage of the booming green tech industry, which includes the skyrocketing EV market.

Given the Biden administration's emphasis on manufacturing and clean energy, we want to be in a state that's excited to move forward and shares our interest in green technology. With that in mind, Illinois was an easy choice.

We feel we're getting in on the ground floor of Illinois' green tech boom and we're primed to take advantage of it. In December 2020, we announced plans to be listed on the NYSE late in the first quarter of 2021 to expand our global reach and broaden our technology portfolio. We are looking to drive and benefit from the growing wave of EV adoption, which is why we've joined a statewide EV advocacy group called Illinois Clean Air Now (ICAN). This coalition is made up of clean energy groups, health advocacy and transportation industry stakeholders and elected officials working together to help Illinois lead the nation in electric transportation.

Clearly, we aren't the only ones who see Illinois' many positives. Fellow ICAN member Rivian Automotive is currently expanding its plant in Normal. The company produces battery-powered trucks, vans and SUVs and employs more than 600 people -- and is growing by leaps and bounds.

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These are just a few examples of how Illinois is moving toward the forefront of the clean energy movement, which is especially exciting given the state's history of relying on carbon-emitting energy sources such as coal. Rather than clinging to an outmoded energy production model, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is boldly leading the state into a new direction.

Gov. Pritzker is pushing Illinois to fully adopt renewable energy by 2050 and hopes to help workers in the fossil fuel industry transition to new jobs in wind or solar energy. Late last year, the governor and his team hosted a series of working group meetings to hear from industry experts and learn about new innovative ways we could advance energy policies for Illinois. His laudable goal is to have Illinois "become the best state in the country for electric vehicle producers and consumers," he has said.

By focusing on green energy, Gov. Pritzker wants to put Illinois at the vanguard of an industry that's been growing by 25% every year. All over the country, private companies are investing billions of dollars into renewable and fossil-free energy production.

The EVBox Group is proud to have made the move to Illinois and we hope others will follow. So let's encourage the state to continue creating new innovative ways that help encourage electric vehicle adaptation, because the benefits will not only improve our environment, but they will also boost our economy and bring in billions of dollars in private investment across the state. The drawback? Well, we haven't seen one yet.

• Megha Lakhchaura is the director of policy and utility programs for the EVBox Group and a member of Illinois Clean Air Now.

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