In this April 25, 2016, file photo, an electric Fiat plugged into a charging station in a parking lot.
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During the nearly seven years I served as the president and CEO of Bridgestone Americas, our company counted on the state of Ohio to support our success. Bridgestone Americas’ roots go back to the Firestone Tire Rubber Company, which was founded in Akron in 1900. The company’s long and successful history has important ties to Ohio that continue to this day.
But big changes are looming for the automotive industry. Customers are demanding more efficient and electric vehicles, and experts expect this trend to grow. Meeting this enormous demand will require innovation in auto component design and manufacturing.
Ohio is heavily invested in the portions of the auto industry that will change the most with electrification: internal combustion engines, transmissions, and drivetrain components. Concerted action to develop an in-state electric vehicle supply chain could position Ohio as a first-mover, delivering major economic benefits for decades.
How big is this opportunity? A report from Synapse Energy Economics in partnership with the Great Lakes Energy Institute at Case Western Reserve University found that with targeted investment, expanded work-force training, and clean energy innovation, the auto sector could grow Ohio’s gross domestic product by $900 million and add more than 9,000 jobs by 2030. Maintaining the status quo risks Ohio falling behind other states, with GDP declines of $744 million and a loss of nearly 7,000 jobs, costing $675 million in annual wages.
Ohio is facing a choice. Decisions made will determine whether Ohio captures economic growth by developing a modernized energy economy, or risks losing business to domestic and international competition. Increased collaboration is needed to take advantage of the transportation transformation.
As a member of the Powering Ohio initiative, I am excited to see some of Ohio’s largest private employers, growing small companies, labor, and research institutions come together to begin this dialogue. These stakeholders will soon release a roadmap of pragmatic steps for moving Ohio toward this vision of energy innovation.
Ohio has a unique opportunity to move into the driver’s seat, fully embrace automotive electrification and the accompanying innovative clean energy economy,and reap huge benefits for its citizenry.
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