SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Electric-powered medium and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturer and distributor GreenPower Motor Company has announced a training partnership with BridgeValley Community & Technical College and the Workforce Development Board of Kanawha County as the company begins to build a home in South Charleston.
Leaders with all three parties were on the campus of BridgeValley Community & Technical College (BVCTC) Tuesday to announce a program that will provide workforce development and training opportunities for potential employees at its South Charleston all-electric school bus manufacturing facility, which is scheduled to open later this year.
Brendan Riley, the President of GreenPower Motor Company told MetroNews this company is excited for the opportunity ahead with BVCTC’s background in training and the local area’s established automotive base.
“A company is only as good as its talent. This is an amazing opportunity and key for our success,” Riley said.
“We can actually have parts made locally, have local partners. There is automotive people, there is Toyota and Hino here. There’s a good critical mass and it all came together.”
On Jan. 12, Gov. Jim Justice announced that GreenPower had entered into a lease/purchase agreement with the state of West Virginia to acquire properties located in South Charleston with 9.5 acres and an 80,000 square foot building where it plans to be manufacturing zero-emission, all-electric school buses by mid-2022.
The state will provide up to $3.5 million in employment incentive payments to GreenPower for creating up to 900 jobs in the state as vehicle production increases over time, the company said. State officials are hopeful that 900 jobs figure comes to fruition in 24 months.
Riley said the company will be looking at qualified candidates for positions now, as BVCTC has courses in place similar to what the new program will be offering. He said workers must have an understanding with programming and electrical engineering.
GreenPower makes a product called BEAST, which stands for Battery Electric Automotive School Transportation.
The company describes that as an all-electric 40-foot Type D battery electric school bus with a range of up to 150 miles on a single charge via a 194kWh battery pack.
Dr. Casey Sacks the President of BVCTC told MetroNews the course work will include electronics, batteries and fabrication. She said the college has already been working with fabrication companies in the area.
She was also proud to state that nearly all of the college’s graduates stay in West Virginia to work and this will be another pipeline to the community.
“GreenPower came in and saw what our faculty was already capable of doing and said they want to do similar programming for people they want to hire to work in their plant,” Sacks said.
Sacks said the college will have a specific class beginning Feb. 21 for this program and those interested can get started right away. Riley told MetroNews the company may look to hire its first group in the March to April range.
“This will start 900 jobs here in South Charleston and all of those jobs require some training. It’s exciting for our whole community that the WorkForce Development Board, the college and the company are all working together to help get folks trained,” Sacks said.
Julie Norman, the Executive Director of the Workforce Development Board of Kanawha County said in a release, “GreenPower’s location in the Kanawha Valley is transformative for our community. This company’s innovative technology brings West Virginia to the forefront of alternative energy vehicle manufacturing which will provide hundreds of jobs for West Virginians.”