To lure EV jobs, Michigan promoting, training workforce

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By Carol Cain

Free Press Business Columnist

Make no bones about it, one of Michigan’s calling cards for competing for manufacturers of EVs, trucks, batteries and related businesses gearing up for the power revolution is our unique talent base, specifically automotive engineering and technology, which are darn near embedded in our region’s DNA. 

It’s certainly something to shout out loud about as states like Ohio, Alabama and California are waving their flags, too, as they compete for these companies. Which is why leaders and organizations across Michigan are stepping up efforts to safeguard that advantage as they work to help better train, retain and anticipate talent needs. 

It’ll certainly be needed when you look at the growing number of companies who announced in recent days they are setting up new operations here. I talked to a few of them and asked how our talent pipeline factored in to their decision. 

“Look, Michigan is the global center for the automotive industry,” said Bob Lutz, one of the industry’s quintessential cars guy who has held top jobs at GM, Ford and Chrysler. He’s serving as chairman of VIA Motors, which makes electric trucks for fleets. VIA Motors announced Oct. 25 it was moving its headquarters from Utah to Auburn Hills and, with it, 300 high-wage commercial EV jobs would be based here. 

 “Automotive engineering is in our blood here,” said Lutz, who lives in suburban Detroit. “It makes sense to bring VIA’s headquarters and technical facility to the center of it all and tap into the minds of the brilliant people that work here. That’s what VIA is about — no-nonsense car people with the drive and experience to get things done.” 

Added Bob Purcell, CEO of VIA Motors, “Along with the wealth of experience and talent here, the area has a well-established automotive supply base with advanced capabilities to further help VIA build the best electric work trucks for fleets. Together with our advanced R & D facility in (Orem) Utah, we can effectively create and manufacture durable electric work trucks that fleets can rely on.”