By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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BELVIDERE — Gov. JB Pritzker today signed a bill incentivizing electric vehicle production across Illinois into law.
The governor signed the bill during a ceremony inside Rock Valley College’s future Advanced Technology Center at the former Shopko in Belvidere. The location is notable because local lawmakers pushed to pass the legislation in hopes it would stabilize the future of the Belvidere Assembly Plant, which has gone through several shutdowns and layoffs amid slowing Jeep Cherokee sales and the global microchip shortage.
Local lawmakers have also said the Advanced Technology Center could play a key role in training the region’s workforce to produce electric vehicles.
“By signing the Reimagining Electric Vehicles in Illinois Act into law, we’re making clear to the world that Illinois is open for business and on track to be the best place in the nation to manufacture and drive an electric vehicle,” Pritzker said in a statement.
Stellantis, which owns the Belvidere Assembly Plant, has not commented on whether it is considering electric vehicle production in Belvidere. However, the company has said it is investing billions into electric vehicle production and software.
“With new federal and state goals and changing consumer priorities, automakers are looking to rapidly scale the production of electric vehicles in the United States,” state Sen. Steve Stadelman, D-Loves Park, said in a statement. “We have a narrow, critical window now to stimulate EV investment across Illinois and preserve and create thousands of jobs at the Stellantis plant in Belvidere.”
Stadelman and state Rep. Dave Vella, D-Loves Park, were chief sponsors of the legislation, which passed during fall veto session.
“With more automakers beginning to transition toward creating electric vehicles, there has never been a better time to take advantage of this trend and make Illinois a nationwide leader in electric vehicle manufacturing,” Vella said. “Not only does this legislation give companies the resources they need to make and keep their manufacturing plants in Illinois, it also ensures that we are creating thousands of high-paying jobs to the Rockford area and potentially bringing billions of dollars into our economy.”
Pritzker’s administration has set forth a goal to put one million electric vehicles on the road by 2030, and the law sets out to make Illinois a hub for electric car, electric motorcycle and battery production. Illinois now has two electric vehicle plants: Rivian in Normal and Lion in Joliet.
“It’s no secret that transportation is the leading source of climate pollution — so we’re incentivizing green economic development. It’s good for business — and it’s the right thing to do,” Pritzker said. “The Reimagining Electric Vehicles Act is about acknowledging there doesn’t need to be a trade-off between a cleaner environment and more jobs. We can do both, and today we take a giant leap forward in that quest.”
The law provides tax credits ranging from 75% to 100% of income tax withheld for creating new jobs or 25% to 50% for retaining employees. It also provides tax incentives to pay for training and other investment, as well as allowing local governments to waive property taxes for electric vehicle projects.
The law also incentivizes employers to locate new facilities in communities that have been historically overlooked, and it puts an emphasis on diversity through workforce hiring and reporting plans.
“This law builds on our state’s proud history of auto manufacturing and positions Illinois to become a national leader in electric vehicle and battery production,” said Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, in a statement “These incentives will encourage economic investment, allowing us to keep and grow good-paying manufacturing jobs in an exciting and flourishing industry.”