They are a prime example of how the Recovery Act is helping new clean energy industries bolster the manufacturing economies of mid-western states and lead us toward a brighter, greener economic future.
Using funds from two of the Department of Energy’s Recovery Act projects, $1.3 million from the State Energy Program and a 48C Manufacturing Tax Credit worth $14.6 million, ZBB Energy has already been able to retain nearly a dozen workers, and over time, they expect to hire about 80 more.
During his visit, the President toured ZBB Energy Corporation’s factory and shared these remarks with more than 100 of their employees:
I just had a chance to see some of the batteries that you’re manufacturing and talk to a few of the men and women who are building them. And the reason I’m here today is because at this plant you’re doing more than just making high-tech batteries. You’re pointing the country towards a brighter economic future.
And few parts of the economy were hit harder than manufacturing. Over the last 10 years, the number of people working in manufacturing shrank by a third. And that left millions of skilled, hardworking Americans sitting idle, just like the plants were sitting idle. That was before the recession hit. Obviously once the recession took hold, millions more were struggling in ways that they never imagined. And there’s nobody here who hasn’t been touched in some way by this recession. And certainly a state like Wisconsin or my home state of Illinois can tell a lot of stories about how badly hit manufacturing was, particularly in the Midwest.
And at the same time what we’ve been trying to do – and that’s why I’m here at ZBB – is to jumpstart a homegrown, clean energy industry – building on the good work of your governor and others in this state. That’s why I’m here today. Because of the steps we’ve taken to strengthen the economy, ZBB received a loan that’s helping to fund an expansion of your operations. Already, it’s allowed ZBB to retain nearly a dozen workers. And over time, the company expects to hire about 80 new workers. This is leading to new business for your suppliers, including MGS Plastics and other manufacturer here in Wisconsin.
We expect our commitment to clean energy to lead to more than 800,000 jobs by 2012. And that’s not just creating work in the short term, that’s going to help lay the foundation for lasting economic growth. I just want everybody to understand – just a few years ago, American businesses could only make 2 percent of the world’s advanced batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles – 2 percent. In just a few years, we’ll have up to 40 percent of the world’s capacity.