Chicago Construction News staff writer
TCCI and local officials broke ground on TCCI’s new electric vehicle (EV) innovation hub in Decatur.
The new hub will include one of the first Made-In-America electric compressor manufacturing facilities and a Climatic Center for Innovation and Research specifically designed to push the bounds of possibility in electric vehicles.“Illinois’ clean energy and electric vehicle industries are on the rise, and these investments are lifting up our talented workforce and demonstrating to the world that Illinois is once again open for business, and we’re fast becoming the most promising state in the country to invest in,” said Governor J.B. Pritzker.
More than $21 million in capital grants were also appropriated to the City of Decatur and Richland Community College to build the first-of-its kind Climatic Center for Innovation and Research, as well as the EV + Energy Workforce Training Academy.
Headquartered in Decatur, TCCI’s electric compressor line will produce the largest range of capacity and voltage of any compressor manufacturer in the EV automotive market.
“This three-tiered project represents a historic investment in American manufacturing and a major step toward establishing a full EV supply chain in the US, from supplies to talent,” said TCCI President Richard Demirjian. “It’s fitting that Decatur, on the same site where we have produced compressors since 1984, will now play a critical role in driving the global transportation sector toward an exciting future of electrification.”
A major component of the innovation hub is building a skilled workforce. The EV + Energy Workforce Training Academy will develop a skilled workforce in the electrified transportation industry and clean energy sector by preparing students to either enter directly into high wage jobs with their Associate in Applied Science (AAS) or Associate in Science (AS) degree or by seamlessly transferring to a university through 2+2 programs and articulations agreements. Through the program, Richland Community College (RCC) will have three classrooms located within the TCCI Manufacturing facility for an immersive hands-on learning experience.
Articulation agreements have been signed between Richland Community College and the University of Illinois Grainger College of Engineering, University of Illinois College of ACES, and Northern Illinois University to ensure a seamless transfer of credits for students, allowing them to pursue their educational journey in these cutting-edge fields without barriers. This partnership provides a clear pathway for students and promotes accessibility and affordability, making higher education more attainable for all.
“This initiative is a model for how education and industry can invest in a pipeline of skilled labor for in-demand careers,” said Richland Community College President Cris Valdez. “The EV + Energy Workforce Training Academy will provide an ecosystem for training in electrification and a registered apprenticeship program with immersive industry partnerships that will equip our workforce with the expertise needed to excel in critical STEM career paths.”