Greenwoods’ EV Donation Gives YSU a Voltage Valley ‘Banner’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – With the donation of a new electric vehicle by the Greenwood Family Foundation, Youngstown State University will be able to mark its place in the emerging Voltage Valley.

On Monday, YSU President Jim Tressel joined Greg and Alice Greenwood to show off the red and black 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV with images of Pete the Penguin and the university’s block Y logo. The vehicle will be used when university representatives travel to local schools and organizations to talk about the opportunities available at YSU.

Among those opportunities is the new Excellence Training Center under construction at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Commerce Street. Set to opens in July, the center will provide training for in-demand careers.

“This car is a symbol of hope and the future of the Valley. Our staff is going to be going out into the community – with our local organization, with schools, with employers – to demonstrate that the future of the Valley is here and that it’s really all about electrification,” said Jennifer Oddo, executive director of strategic workforce education and innovation at YSU. 

Plans also call for a second Excellence Training Center to be built in Lordstown, closer to the Ultium Cells battery plant and Lordstown Motors Corp.’s factory there.

Such efforts, Greg Greenwood said, are crucial to keeping the Mahoning Valley relevant.

“People wanted to harness that entrepreneurial energy and keep [the mills] going. We need to do the same thing today,” said the owner of Greenwood Chevrolet in Austintown. “We need to harness our leadership, entrepreneurial energy and vision so we can understand that we’ll make cars that are sold around the globe, but also that we provide jobs to this area.”

The 2020 Chevy Bolt EV donated by the Greenwood Family Foundation to YSU.

The car donated by the Greenwood Foundation is General Motors’ first all-electric vehicle. A second iteration of the Bolt will arrive at Chevy dealerships this summer, Greenwood said, followed by more additions in the coming years as part of GM’s $20 billion commitment to creating an all-electric lineup. Those vehicles will be powered by the Ultium batteries made in Lordstown once the plant is active.

“For years, we were ranked as one of the top passenger car Chevrolet dealerships in the United States. Last month, I sold four. It has shocked us that people would fall out of love with passenger cars and move toward [crossovers] and SUVs and trucks. We lived that market shift with what happened in Lordstown. Now, it’s on us to figure out the next shift and according to Mary Barra and General Motors, they’re committed to the movement toward electric vehicles,” Greenwood said.

The idea behind donating a Bolt, he continued, was a simple one.

“We don’t want to make it too complex: it’s nice to do something nice for Youngstown and it’s nice to do something nice for Youngstown State University,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be neat to get that foundational car at Youngstown State and draw people’s attention to how we’re going to turn the corner again in the Valley? We can support that next generation of workers as they head over to Lordstown to build the next generation of vehicles.”

The donation, Tressel said, will allow YSU to advertise that it’s part of the Voltage Valley movement which, in turn, will help recruit students and educate them on the opportunities that await them if they attend their local university.

“This is a unique gift because it gives the opportunity to wave the banner that Voltage Valley is here and that Youngstown State and Greenwood Chevrolet is part of it,” he said. “It’s a visual representation that progress is being made and that we’re ready to go.”

Tressel arrived in Youngstown in 1986 – four years after Greenwood and seven after Black Monday. He’s aware that the area has seen tumultuous changes in manufacturing, from the shuttering of steel mills to GM’s exit from – and return to – Lordstown. 

“The only thing constant is change and nothing stays the same forever,” he said. “We’re sitting right in the center of the future, of the electrification of our world. We won’t abandon everything we’ve been doing, but to be part of the evolution – we’re lucky to be here talking about the regional impact.”

Pictured: Greenwood Chevrolet owner Greg Greenwood, center, talks about the donation of a Chevrolet Bolt EV to Youngstown State University. With him are his wife, Alice, and YSU President Jim Tressel.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.