Thanks in part to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants, 112 Greenville, SC, workers are grateful this season for the best of gifts in these economic times: jobs in a growth industry.
Over the last few years, DOT has invested in cutting-edge research to help put a new generation of clean, fuel-efficient, zero-emission buses on our streets. And I’m very excited to see those investments are paying off--and generating many new green jobs in the process.
Earlier this month, the world’s first battery-powered electric bus--fully chargable in only 10 minutes!--rolled off the new assembly line at Proterra, Inc.’s expanded manufacturing facility in Greenville.
As a result of Proterra's success, many Greenville area residents are now fully employed at the plant. And with more than 80 buses still in the works, and inquiries pouring in from many domestic and international transit agencies, Proterra is ready to ramp up production. A second assembly line will begin operation in 2011 at a larger facility currently under construction at Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research.
This “made in America” success story is rippling literally across the country. Foothill Transit, serving the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles County, is using a $6.6 million Recovery Act grant to put Proterra’s new Ecoliner into service, the first transit agency in the country to do so.
The ripple effect doesn’t stop there. With a $118 million Recovery Act grant, Aerovironment, Inc., which makes key components for Proterra’s fast-charging stations, has been able to expand its American manufacturing capabilities in this rapidly growing green industry. And Energetx in Holland, Michigan, has also gained jobs as a key supplier.
Now, while this green economic activity is a terrific development, it may not have happened as quickly had it not been for our Federal Transit Administration’s National Fuel Cell Bus Program. Back in August, 2009, FTA awarded a three-year, $450,000 grant to the Center for Transportation and the Environment in Atlanta to test Proterra’s fuel cell technology.
New jobs, cleaner air, and greater mobility--the lesson is crystal clear. When our government invests in American innovation and taps into our collective ingenuity, we reap the rewards in the form of economic growth and home-grown solutions to our most pressing energy and transportation challenges.