Schumer promotes grant to fill gaps in Broome County battery manufacturing hub

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Nobel Laureate Stanely Whittingham showed his Binghamton University laboratory to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Monday. (Vaughn Golden/WSKG)

VESTAL, NY (WSKG) — U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer visited Binghamton University Monday touting his continued support for a competitive federal grant to support a lithium ion battery manufacturing hub in Broome County.

The New Energy New York project is one of 60 finalists vying for grants of up to $100 million from the U.S. Economic Development Agency.

Binghamton University is leading the group, hoping for a $75 million grant to build out and incentivize existing resources in Broome County into a nation-leading hub for manufacturing lithium ion batteries.

“It’s a renaissance, a potential renaissance for places like Binghamton which need the jobs and have the foundation to rebuild American manufacturing,” Schumer said.

Schumer was joined by Nobel Prize laureate and Binghamton University Professor Stanley Whittingham, who facilitates a laboratory working to advance lithium ion batteries. Energy storage, with its backbone being lithium ion batteries, is becoming a key player in consumer goods, electricity generation and manufacturing processes.

Whittingham’s laboratory is complemented by newly established Endicott-based battery manufacturer, IM3NY. The company, chaired by Shailesh Upreti, is expected to begin production in July.

Upreti said the grant would help scale up parts of the manufacturing economy locally, including incentives for other companies in the battery manufacturing supply chain to relocate to the Southern Tier.

Shailesh Upreti shakes hands with U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). (Vaughn Golden/WSKG)

“This program is really bridged between the [research and development] that happened here and the gigafactory,” Upreti said, referring to his company’s new Endicott facility. “So while we have a lot of upstream and downstream activities happening, there is a gap and I think this is a perfect spot to bring NENY to and that’s going to act as a bridge and really fast track many of the technologies that can be not only invented here, but also taken to the commercialization stage.”

Upreti said his company could bring over a thousand new jobs. But that will need to come with other investments too, like workforce development, which is also provided for under the project proposal.

NENY is one of 60 finalists vying for 20 projects to receive funding. Two other projects – in western New York and central New York – are also finalists.