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Endicott’s lithium-ion battery gigafactory growing as production begins

The Southern Tier is now one step closer to being able to call itself the world leader in lithium-ion battery production.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is championing a local company’s application for a $700 million Department of Energy loan, which would help build a significant new gigafactory for production.

The lithium-ion battery’s importance is constantly on display — whether it’s in power tools or electric cars — and Endicott is home to iM3NY, the only homegrown battery cell gigafactory in North America.

“What we are building here is a very cohesive domestic ecosystem,” said Shailesh Upreti, the founder and chairman of iM3NY.

Each step in the production process is completed in IBM’s former factory site in Endicott. Battery production at iM3NY is now underway, and soon, they’ll be in the hands of customers.

Currently, anything from a toy car to a real-life electric one requires a battery from overseas.

“As we see, electric cars are taking a big leap right now in the mainstream. And a lot of these OEMs that are producing cars rely on foreign supplies for them, whether it’s the material or the batteries that go inside these cars,” said Upreti.

Upreti hopes to change that, but he says building his workforce has been a challenge. Since lithium-ion battery production is somewhat new to the U.S., finding employees versed in the technology isn’t easy.

IM3NY has been working with local community members and agencies to build development and training programs, Upreti said, and the company could soon be getting a big boost to help with recruitment. The $700 million loan application would increase the size of the facility by 12 times and help train future workers. And last year, Binghamton University was granted $67 million in federal funding to establish a training facility for batter production at the site of iM3NY.

“The goal is to… obviously ship these cells commercially to our clients. We have started doing that already a little bit, but I think next few weeks we will ramp that up as well,” said Upreti.

For the roughly 80 current employees, it’s encouraging to be part of something so revolutionary.

“To be part of something that’s new, new technology, and that’s part of the area. IBM, we all hear about IBM, talking about IBM, and to hear about, you know, Imperium3 here, building jobs and creating jobs with the community, I think is something we all need,” said Shivan Mizouri, the director of operation at iM3NY.

 

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