FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
10/21/2021

 Gov. Pritzker Joins Heartland Community College and Rivian for Unveiling of New Electric Vehicle Skills Training Program

New Skills Training Program to Help Prepare Residents and Companies for Electrification and Workforce Demands

BLOOMINGTON– Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today joined college officials and auto maker Rivian for a first look at the new Electric Vehicle Energy Storage (EVES) training program at Heartland Community College. Funded in part by the State's $15 million Manufacturing Training Academies investment earlier this year – the new EVES training program will help prepare residents and companies doing business here to keep pace with demands in the fast-growing electric vehicle production sector in Illinois.

"Illinois is well on our way to becoming the best state in the nation to manufacture and drive an electric vehicle. But we're not stopping there," said Governor JB Pritzker. "Companies coming to Illinois will find our exceptionally talented workforce ready to fill the jobs they're creating. That's thanks in large part to community colleges like Heartland that educate our next generation of leaders and serve as economic engines for our state. I'm proud we're taking another step forward in creating economic growth and jobs for the people of Illinois."

The first cohort of students in the EVES program began their training this fall semester to prepare for jobs in the EV sector. Completion of the program will provide students certification or access to apprenticeship positions in EV related jobs, which continue to grow and are expected to double in Illinois over the next four years.

"Thanks to our collaboration with industry partners like Rivian, and with the significant impact of the Manufacturing Training Academy grant, Heartland Community College is poised to become a regional leader in advanced manufacturing education," said Heartland President Keith Cornille. "We anticipate seeing 360 students complete training through the EVES program over the next five years, and to have our state-of-the-art facility open and hosting students on our main campus in 2023. This will be a benefit for employers seeking trained workers in the rapidly growing electric vehicle and battery technology industry."

Students are currently learning in a facility equipped with electric vehicles and specialized equipment donated by Rivian. The location is temporary as HCC develops a future on-campus facility funded in part by a Rebuild Illinois capital grant. The proposed 6,278 SF facility to be built on the primary HCC campus in Normal is one of two new Manufacturing Training Academies in Illinois.

As part of a 5-year economic growth plan, the State of Illinois has identified manufacturing and, specifically, electric vehicle production, as high growth industries, calling for investment to support workers and employers in preparing for future demand. Illinois has seen major growth in EV production in the past couple of years, including significant hiring by Rivian, and with the investment of Lion Electric's first-ever North American manufacturing center coming to Joliet and creating 745 local jobs.

"As we've seen increasingly over the past year, demand for skilled talent in the advanced manufacturing and electric vehicle production sectors is higher than ever – and is poised to grow here in our state," said Sylvia Garcia, Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity. "Through Governor Pritzker's investments to bring a new Manufacturing Training Academy to Normal, the State of Illinois is collaborating with industry and community college partners to prepare more Illinoisans with the 21st century skills needed to grow our vital manufacturing industry and to help more companies choose Illinois for years to come."

To sustain the continued growth by manufacturers and to prepare Illinois for electrification – the administration is investing in workforce training programs, such as those at Heartland Community College; as well as infrastructure investments, including $70 million earmarked in the capital plan to build charging stations. Governor Pritzker also recently worked with the General Assembly to pass landmark clean energy legislation, including setting forth a goal of putting 1 million EV's on the road by 2030.

"This program shows the great potential that exists for Illinois to lead the nation in green energy and electric vehicle manufacturing jobs," said Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park). "I applaud the investment Rivian has made in Illinois and the investment that Heartland Community College is making in our future workers. I hope this is a shining example of the great things to come."

"We know the green energy sector is an integral part of our future," said House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch (D-Westchester). "As we continue to capitalize on our state's positioning to lead these new industries, I'm pleased to see how this first-of-its kind program will spur innovation, build a qualified workforce, and strengthen our working families across Illinois."

"Our world and how we work, live and play is constantly evolving, and the electric vehicle market presents tremendous opportunities for growth for the state of Illinois. The Rivian facility here in the Bloomington-Normal area is proof of that," said House Revenue and Finance Committee Chairman Mike Zalewski, (D-Riverside). "I join Gov. Pritzker and his Administration to strongly support our collective efforts to embrace the electric vehicle market and create more jobs, cleaner transportation and an ever-growing stream of benefits for decades to come. I am proud of this collaboration between Heartland and Rivian and look forward for many others to follow in this innovative marketplace."

"Heartland Community College has taken advantage of the growing electronic vehicle industry here in Illinois while prospering the next generation of innovators," said State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford). "Teaching students about the importance of green energy and its use in motor vehicles will emphasize Illinois' dedication to stopping global warming and reducing emissions. Our Community College system will ensure that Illinois electric vehicle manufacturers have a skilled work force able to provide Illinois residents with clean energy transportation."

"The new Electric Vehicle – Energy Storage Manufacturing Training Academy at Heartland Community College is a state-of-the-art training program that will help fill the growing demand for skilled workers well-versed in the field of electric vehicle technology," said State Senator Sally Turner (R-Beason). "The Electric Vehicle – Energy Storage Academy is just the first step in Heathland Community College's overall vision for an innovative Manufacturing Training Academy that will accommodate the regional demand for a workforce with a skillset ranging from advanced robotics to renewable energy. I look forward to working closely with President Keith Cornille and other Heartland Community College leaders in the future as they strive to make their vision of educating a highly skilled and diverse workforce a reality." 

"This Educational Partnership between Heartland Community College and Rivian, will provide an Associates of Applied Science Degree in Electric Vehicle Design, and good paying jobs in the E.V. field," said State Representative Dan Brady (R-Bloomington). "Thanks to funding held from Governor Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly 'Rebuild Illinois' Program."

"This is an example of what is possible when you have cooperation from multiple levels of government and the private sector, all working toward a common goal," said State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington). "This program will not only help us grow a workforce that is competitive in an increasingly global economy, but it will also help grow local jobs and businesses that are part of an industry experiencing exponential growth." 

In honor of October's Manufacturing Month – Governor Pritzker presented a proclamation recognizing Heartland Community College and regional manufacturing partners for their key role in preparing the Illinois workforce for advanced manufacturing careers and for supporting growth of the industry and the local economy. Earlier this month, the State of Illinois kicked off Manufacturing Month in Illinois, celebrating the continued innovation by Illinois makers, the 40+ company investments announced so far this year, and recognizing the immeasurable contributions of over 18,000 manufacturers and the hundreds of thousands of workers they employ. Manufacturing Month events are being hosted by DCEO and industry partners. For more information, please visit DCEO's website.