STEUBEN COUNTY, N.Y. (WETM) – Did you know the Southern Tier is considered part of America’s “Battery Belt? Now there’s a new effort to boost “Clean Tech” manufacturing in our region. It’s called the “Southern Tier Clean Tech Corridor Initiative.

The plan is “to develop a regional economic ecosystem leveraging the various academic, industry, and site-specific assets in an 8-9 county region in New York’s Southern Tier, located along Interstate 86. The plan is to include Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Sullivan, Tioga and Tompkins counties.

The objective is “to identify and position the region for significant private sector investment in next generation technologies in clean tech manufacturing, clean energy production and supply chain opportunities in this field.”

The initiative is being led by Jamie Johnson, the Executive Director of the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency. “This is not just a Steuben County focus or Chemung County focus. This needs to be a regional focus so we can establish ourselves as a leader in this effort,” said Johnson.

“We have looked at these projects not only as a revenue stream for communities where they’re being located. We’re also trying to understand what the long-term economic benefit is in an opportunity not just benefit but opportunity is of having projects such as this in our community, especially as we look at the policy decisions that are being made at a state and federal level as a relates to reduction of carbon emissions.”

“The second piece of that is to also then take a look at what the physical needs of these businesses that are playing in this field or investing in this field are so we can then as economic developers and economic development organizations go out and start to plan our development opportunities and development sites. Specifically, around site location site infrastructure and being able to make sure that when these opportunities do arise, that we’ve made the appropriate investments int the right amount of acreage, the right infrastructure requirements and capacity so we can be prepared to respond when we do have opportunities presented in front of us.

Johnson says another key part involves ground-breaking research happening at Binghamton University. Chemistry professor Stanley Wittingham recently won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his development of Lithium-ion batteries. Last month, New York Senator Chuck Schumer designated Binghamton as one of 31 “Tech Hubs” across the nation, also known as America’s “Battery Belt.”

Johnson says so far, he has secured commitments of $50,000 each from Steuben, Broome and Chemung Counties. He says $200,000-$300,000 will be used to hire an economic development planning firm to help identify specific sites to attract new investment.

“I do think its forward-thinking,” said Joe Roman, the Executive Director of the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency. “I think this will be one of the pillars of our future for economic development in our region. We all know everything happening at Binghamton and Broome County, the continued worth they get in millions of dollars in federal funding, so we really are one of the battery hubs in the country. It will continue to get bigger, and I think it’s something we need to take a look at and take advantage of.”

“What are some of the concerns you’re hearing regarding battery development? For example, how to get rid of battery waste, how to come up with the lithium and other resources that are needed?” asked 18 News reporter Nick Dubina.

“I know there are concerns out there not only locally but globally,” said Johnson. “Where are we going to get the precious metals? What are the fire hazards? I know that the research that Binghamton University is focused on addressing some of those issues. That’s one of the reasons why we feel it’s important that we get on this early in development strategy around it because the technology is ever changing, and it’s quickly changing and if as economic developers were not prepared to react to that, then we’re going to miss opportunity.”

You can watch the full interview with Mr. Johnson and read his full presentation below: