Derek Armstrong discusses why Nevada’s new ERTEP program can bring electric vehicle manufacturing to Henderson.
In February 2022, NV Energy began seeking public input as part of its effort to fill out and fulfill the vision of the Economic Recovery Transportation Electrification Plan (ERTEP) laid out by the Nevada Senate Bill 448. A $7.8 billion piece of legislation passed last fall, SB 448 created a comprehensive new framework for Nevada’s energy efficiency, with wide-ranging components related to high voltage transmission, solar deregulation and more.
ERTEP’s $100 million investment is earmarked to develop and construct charging infrastructure for light, medium and heavy-duty Electric Vehicles (EVs) over the next three years, and includes a variety of settings including a depot programs for interstate corridors and urban areas and a charging program for public agency EVs. Some observers, including Derek Armstrong, Director of Economic Development and Tourism in Henderson, Nevada, see this as a promising first step in jumpstarting EV manufacturing in Southern Nevada. We sat down with Armstrong to ask him why.
Q: How do you see this new ERTEP program as a catalyst for EV production?
A: To put it simply, it raises our profile as a location that welcomes innovation, and electric vehicles in particular. And that can encourage a closer look at all the benefits that Henderson and Southern Nevada offer EV manufacturing.
Q: For EV manufacturing companies, what are those advantages?
A: The same advantages that has made this area a flourishing hub for AVs (Autonomous Vehicles). On Southern Nevada roads, we’ve got Halo driverless car service, Motional fully AV products and Nuro driverless delivery vehicles. And now Nuro is constructing an assembly and testing facility here in the area. The company understands that in Southern Nevada’s pro-business, pro-innovation environment, operations will be able to tap into all the resources they need, starting with workforce.
Q: What workforce characteristics have attracted AV production?
A: First, there’s size. Here in one of the nation’s fastest growing counties, Henderson business has access to a population of 2.4 million within a 50-minute drive. And it isn’t just size, it’s skill. We like to work and we know how to work. Henderson’s GDP has outperformed peer regions and has increased by 32% since 2011, and we are part of the nation’s largest county to be ACT® Work Ready-Certified.
Here in Henderson we’ve also put together a talent pipeline that’s custom-made for manufacturing. Haas Automation, the world’s largest maker of machine tools, chose Henderson for its new manufacturing location and invested $327 million here because they believed in us. And we delivered. We moved immediately to answer the company’s workforce needs, collaborating with College of Southern Nevada (CSN) and Southern Nevada’s Workforce Connections office to create the necessary training. The result is the $12 million Workforce Training Center, where Haas and other companies will be able to implement state-of-the-art custom training for employees. CSN has also amped up its industrial training for incoming students. Our workforce is ready for the challenges any manufacturer can bring us. And I have to add here that Henderson has supply chain advantages unavailable anywhere else in the area.
Q: What are Henderson’s supply chain advantages for EV manufacturing?
A: In the West Henderson Jobs Corridor, where abundant and affordable acreage is available, manufacturing operations really can’t do better in terms of strategic low-cost market proximity, proximity to South Western markets in particular. That includes Californian ports, where products can be delivered in a one-day turnaround. We’re also a one-day drive time from Phoenix, Santa Fe, Salt Lake City and Sacramento.
Henderson offers strategic workforce and access, and we’ve already proven ourselves as a city that can nurture innovation for critical suppliers. K2 Energy, one of the nation’s leading producers of cell and battery solutions, was founded here in 2006 when they produced their first lithium ion batteries. Since then, K2 has powered pioneering rocket flights to space, and created custom battery solutions that power EVs of all kinds, from fork and lift trucks, to golf carts to silent watch vehicles for the U.S. Border Patrol. And their product portfolio is growing—trucks, motorcycles, helicopters. The sky really is the limit.
Q: So, to put it simply, with workforce, market proximity and leading suppliers, Henderson has all the cluster advantages for superior EV manufacturing. Right?