Image of electric vehicle charger, a car covered in leaves, and Department of Energy logo at the bottom.

The Department of Energy will be providing $100 million in funding to expand or retool manufacturing facilities for electric vehicle production.

Photo: Canva/DOE/WT Ilustration

Today, during Vice President Kamala Harris’ Economic Opportunity Tour, she announced $100 million in funding through the Department of Energy (DOE) for small- and medium-sized auto manufacturers and autoworkers involved in the transition to electric vehicles. She announced the funding during a stop in Michigan.

The Vehicle Suppliers Association (MEMA) said it has been actively collaborating with the White House to develop initiatives that support vehicle suppliers including providing essential data requested by the White House, enabling policymakers to understand the impact of the supplier industry, specifically small- and medium- sized businesses, and formulate effective strategies to support its growth and resilience.

“The Vehicle Suppliers Association applauds today’s announcement by Vice President Harris and the Biden-Harris Administration in their support of small- and medium-sized auto parts manufacturers and autoworkers. Through the announcement of more than $100 million in funding and a suite of strategic actions, the Administration demonstrates its commitment to strengthening the domestic auto industry and ensuring its competitiveness in the clean vehicle future,” MEMA said in a press release.

A White House press release further detailed other resources that will be implemented to help manufacturers in the transition to EVs.

$100 Million in Funding Through Grants

The Department of Energy (DOE) will set aside $50 million of its Automotive Conversion Grants Program for partnerships with states to help small- and medium-sized suppliers convert from manufacturing internal combustion engine parts to manufacturing parts for the EV supply chain.

This funding will maintain the Domestic Conversion Grant’s same focus on supporting retooling to keep jobs in the same communities as automakers and auto suppliers transition to electric vehicle manufacturing here in America. The DOE recently requested public input on the design of these state-federal partnerships in order to best support small- and medium-sized manufacturers in the auto supply chain.

The DOE also is setting aside up to $50 million of its Industrial Assessments Center Implementation Grants Program to help auto suppliers kickstart manufacturing diversification and conversion projects.

Specifically, this program, which was funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and is covered under the Justice40 Initiative, provides grants of up to $300,000 to entities that have received an Industrial Assessment Center assessment to improve their facilities’ energy and material efficiency, cybersecurity, or productivity, or reduce the greenhouse gas emissions.

SBA Expands Small Business Investment Company Program

The Small Business Administration (SBA)will leverage its Small Business Investment Company program to catalyze millions of dollars in private capital for the EV supply chain to help small and medium-sized manufacturers grow and diversify their businesses, the press release said. The DOE will partner with the SBA to provide technical expertise to de-risk private investments and lower the cost of capital for small and medium-sized manufacturers.

The SBA plans to establish a new Working Capital Pilot Program under its signature 7(a) lending program to provide lines of credit to small businesses, including auto parts manufacturers and distributors, to support their domestic or export finance needs. The program will be paired with business counseling from the Small Business Administration.

Expanding Workforce Training and Jobs in the EV Supply Chain

According to the White House, actions to expand workforce training and improve job quality in the EV supply chain with a focus on auto communities in the Midwest include:

  • A second round of Investing in America Workforce Hubs— the funding includes an electric vehicle hub in Michigan, which will be led by the DOE and Department of Labor (DOL) in partnership with the State of Michigan. Workforce Hubs are place-based initiatives focused on partnerships for job-training so all Americans can access the good jobs created by the President’s Investing in America agenda, the press release said.
  • The Department of Energy is opening applications for its new Community Workforce Readiness Accelerator for Major Projects (RAMP) Fellowship. Fellows will spend two years building and scaling projects that expand workforce development partnerships to serve local and underrepresented populations in communities that have received major clean energy and manufacturing investments, including Michigan.
  • The Department of Energy recently made available $24 million in grants for EV and other clean energy and advanced manufacturing workforce training at community colleges, trade schools, union training programs, and registered apprenticeships through the Industrial Assessment Centers Program, which aims to deliver on the president’s Justice40 Initiative.
  • The Battery Workforce Initiative will fill a critical gap in the battery industry by developing standardized training guidelines for key battery manufacturing occupations, including operators and machine repairers. The DOE will pilot this workforce curriculum with union manufacturers. Under the Battery Workforce Initiative, the DOL will also implement model safety and health management practices focused on battery manufacturing, as well as assess the need for an industry-wide standard.
  • The DOL will organize EV workforce convenings in Ohio and Indiana. As part of the Building Pathways to Infrastructure Jobs Grant Program, the Department of Labor recently awarded $7 million across Indiana and Ohio to develop sector partnerships that bring together the public workforce and education system, community-based organizations, employers, and labor unions focused on the EV industry. These sector partnerships will work collaboratively to design and scale worker-centered training programs, help suppliers in auto communities analyze the impact of the EV transition on their labor force needs, and spread awareness of existing workforce development technical assistance and funding resources.

Feds Offer Technical Assistance Programs for EV Manufacturing Growth

New technical assistance programs to help small and medium-sized auto parts manufacturers and their communities take advantage of growth in the EV sector and other markets, according to the White House, will include:

  • Small Supplier EV Transition Playbook —The DOE, in collaboration with industry experts, will develop a Small Supplier EV Transition Playbook to help internal combustion engine suppliers navigate the transition of their business model to EV or adjacent markets. This playbook will describe new products that ICE suppliers could produce based on existing manufacturing capabilities, outline workforce and technical changes needed to succeed in new industries, and guide suppliers through available federal resources. Applications for partnerships are open through May 23.
  • Auto Supplier Transition Network — The federal government will launch the Auto Supplier Transition Network, which will provide research and hands-on, locally-based technical assistance in auto communities to help small and medium-sized auto suppliers, unions, and auto communities navigate the opportunities in the EV transition and broader clean energy manufacturing acceleration. These providers will serve as regional hubs for technical, financial, industry, and workforce resources needed to support individual suppliers. These providers will offer technical, financial, industry, and workforce resources at no or below market rate costs and include:
  • No-Cost Assessments — The DOE’s Industrial Assessment Centers can provide no-cost assessments to help small and medium-sized auto suppliers improve energy performance and productivity. Auto suppliers that receive an assessment can also apply for Industrial Assessments Center implementation grants of up to $300,000 to kickstart manufacturing diversification and conversion projects.
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership Centers — public-private partnership Manufacturing Extension Partnership Centers will be located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico to help small and midsized manufacturers with workforce development, market research, launching new products, and much more—often in partnership with Industrial Assessment Centers. Manufacturing Extension Partnerships will help small and medium-sized suppliers implement recommendations from the Small Supplier EV Transition Toolkit.

Earlier Investment and Growth in EV Manufacturing

The White House press release said since Biden and Harris took office, companies have announced more than $170 billion in investments in electric vehicle (EV) and battery supply chain manufacturing, making the U.S. the global leader for EV manufacturing investment, and the U.S. auto industry has added over 250,000 jobs. More than 20 auto and battery plants have been announced under President Biden, according to the White House.

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