LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ironworkers at Ultium Cells LLC’s battery cell manufacturing facility marked a construction milestone Friday with the final beam installation at what will soon be a 2.8 million square foot operation in Lordstown.
The team hoisted and installed the final beam as part of a traditional “topping out” ceremony.
Leadership and trade partner employees had the opportunity to sign the beam and participate in a photograph.
Sydnee Resele, an operator apprentice from Orangeville, Ohio, put her name on the final piece of steel for the Ultium Cells plant. She’s just 23 years old and a steelworker’s apprentice, but recognizes the significance of the moment.
“I have many, many, many, many years ahead of me, where I might even have the opportunity to come back and do work on this place and hopefully still see my name on that beam right there,” she said.
It took 10 months to reach the topping off ceremony. Next, the siding and roofing will go up.
Six hundred and fifty construction workers have been on the job.
Ultium Cells, a joint venture between General Motors and LG Chem, will mass-produce Ultium battery cells at the facility to advance the push for a zero-emissions, all-electric future. LG is the technology leader for lithium ion battery cells.
“So by partnering, Ultium Cells is implementing that technology with the latest generation of process equipment,” said Tom Gallagher, plant director.
LG Chem has found ways to improve the process, and GM’s lineup of all-electric vehicles will benefit.
“It’s going to be bigger and longer range,” said Michael Kim, project manager.
LG Chem tested many different cells but found one that it feels is better than all the rest. That’s why this $2.3 billion plant is being built, to make those cells here.
“We produce one cell only and that fits into each of General Motors’ new vehicles. So it’s like standardizing new cells here,” Kim said.
GM and LG Chem are investing $2.3 billion into the facility to support EV manufacturing in the U.S.
Over 500,000 hours have been devoted to development of the facility, which is slated for completion in 2022. This includes creation and installation of the USA-made steel structure.
The building’s framework allows for an innovative open floor plan environment, with a main corridor spanning the width of the building interior and creating a natural connection point across the operation. The plant will equal the size of 30 football fields and will have an annual capacity of over 30 gigawatt hours with room to expand.
“We are pleased construction at Ultium continues to progress safely and on schedule,” said Kee Eun, president of Ultium Cells LLC. “While we faced unprecedented challenges from the very beginning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been able to execute successfully according to plan thanks to the collaborative efforts between General Motors and LG Chem, as well as the support and commitment from our contract partners and the local community.”
As construction continues, the company is also looking to begin hiring.
“I mean, this is going to bring a lot of jobs to the area and it’s going to help out a lot, a lot of people,” said Jason Perna, an ironworker.
They will onboard 30 new Ultium Cells team members on March 1. Ultium Cells will create more than 1,100 new jobs in Northeast Ohio and is hiring to fill those positions.
They will be installing equipment for the battery cell making process.
“This is a significant milestone for the Ultium Cells team and our construction trade partners as we continue to build our physical foundation through the construction of our site and our cultural foundation as we stand up our workforce,” Gallagher said. “Ultium Cells is on track to achieve our vision of an inclusive and engaged workforce as we add 30 more launch team members in March. It is exciting to see the team coming together to support the launch of this important business.”
Job seekers interested in careers in battery cell manufacturing can apply for open positions on the Ultium Cells website.