Good news for Kentuckians in Whitley County — and the world. Firestone Industrial Products plans to expand its plant in Williamsburg to produce air suspension systems for electric vehicles. The plan is backed up by a $51 million commitment and expected to create 250 jobs.
Firestone, a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas Inc., opened in operation in 1989 with 500 workers, so an addition of 250 jobs is significant.
There is a promising future for electric cars.
• Ford Motor Co. is shooting for 40% of global sales to be battery/electric vehicles by 2030.
• General Motors plans to stop selling combustion vehicles by 2035.
• In an attempt to fight climate change, President Joe Biden’s clean-energy agenda includes a sharp increase in the number of electric vehicles.
Kentucky has done its part to make sure the plant expansion happens, with a $6.5 million tax incentive package for Firestone's investment and employment goals seemingly on track for approval.
One of the goals Firestone must meet is offering jobs paying $29 an hour, including benefits.
This is good news for Kentucky, of course, because Firestone, with cooperation from the state, is generating good-paying jobs for residents. With the infrastructure in place, it’s likely more jobs will be added as the country moves toward more clean-energy vehicles, and this area of Kentucky will be poised to take advantage.
This is good news for the world because it shows progress toward a cleaner Earth. A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, and every gallon of gasoline burned creates about 8,887 grams of CO2, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Widespread use of electric vehicles will be an important facet of mitigating climate change.
This also is a lesson for the Tri-State: There is a healthy future for our economy, but we must embrace change and think about the future in progressive terms.