When it comes to attracting new business and preparing workers to enter the job market, Lorain County has become a proven leader.

A case in point: In June, Ford Motor Co. announced that the auto manufacturer is investing $1.5 billion into Lorain County at the Ford Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake to assemble an all-new commercial electric vehicle (EV). The investment will create 1,800 new hourly jobs. The new expanded facility will continue to produce Ford’s E-series van, medium-duty trucks and super duty chassis cabs.

“The ingenuity and talent of Ohio’s automotive workforce are second to none, and Ford’s investment in Avon Lake will play an essential role in growing the EV space,” said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in a statement about Ford’s commitment to the county. “Ford has been a partner in Ohio for generations, and its confidence in the Ford Ohio Assembly Plant operations secures EV operations in Lorain County that will be critical for decades to come.”

To support the Avon Lake Ford expansion, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority will consider a tax credit, and JobsOhio plans to provide grant assistance.

To Tony Gallo, president of the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce, the announcement is a shining example of tried-and-true teamwork between a trio of cities and their leaders.

“The plant sits in three different cities — Avon Lake, Sheffield Village and Sheffield Lake,” he explains. “I credit the cooperation between the three cities and their three mayors — Gregory Zilka of Avon Lake, Dennis Bring of Sheffield Lake and John D. Hunter of Sheffield Village — to making this happen. Not only does the expansion benefit their communities, it also benefits Lorain, Elyria and other nearby cities.”

Gallo adds that the county’s reputation as a leader in manufacturing precedes it when it comes to welcoming new opportunities.

“During Manufacturing Month, we’ve been talking about what electric vehicles are going to mean to our local manufacturers, because we have a lot of Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive suppliers,” he says. “When you go from a gas-powered engine to an electric one, the parts aren’t the same. They’ve been preparing for this technology for the last four or five years. Ford is not going to put $1.5 billion dollars into a temporary plant. The additional jobs and what that’s going to mean here locally is vital. It’s proof that Lorain County is part of the automotive superhighway from Detroit on down. And it shows that we have a workforce that comes to work, that’s willing to work and willing to be retrained to do something new. That’s key.”

The Ford Motor Co., DeWine-Husted Administration, Ohio Department of Development, city of Avon Lake, Lorain County, state and local elected officials and Ohio’s Congressional delegation collaborated with JobsOhio to bring the project to Lorain County. JobsOhio, the state’s private nonprofit economic development corporation, has placed significant focus on supporting the automotive supply chain as original equipment manufacturers have begun to place a major focus on electric vehicle production.

“The harder we work with Team NEO and JobsOhio, the more dollars will come [back] to Lorain County,” Gallo says. “Ultimately, we need to get these folks into the workforce again, and they want to be there.”