Biden Administration to support workforce in Phoenix, Tempe as ASU is selected to lead clean energy project

The Biden administration this week announced new strategies to train and connect workers across the country to jobs resulting from passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the CHIPS and Science Act, with a special focus on investments in Phoenix and Tempe.

The new strategies are meant to build off the President’s Roadmap to Support Good Jobs, which seeks to bring federal agencies and local stakeholders together to ensure Americans have equitable access to training and job services in their community, no matter their education background.

Phoenix has been selected as one of five Workforce Hubs that support key industries, alongside Columbus, Baltimore, Augusta, and Pittsburgh. This summer, the administration will partner with local officials and community leaders to invest in the Phoenix area’s semiconductor, optical cable, mineral, and battery manufacturing sectors.

“This is excellent news for Arizona,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Danny Seiden. “Arizona job creators advocated for passage of these bipartisan initiatives because we were confident they’d lead to increased job growth. Now we need to connect workers with these new jobs.”

Federal investments in Phoenix include the use of resources from the American Rescue Plan to train for in-demand jobs and redevelop an abandoned big box store into a workforce training center. 

The Four Corners region has also been selected as a high-priority Energy Community and the administration will invest in renewable energy programs that support local and tribal communities.

The Biden administration has also announced an Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Sprint, which will partner with employers and community colleges to expand apprenticeship options and career and technical education (CTE).

Tempe has been selected as one of 16 cities to participate in the president’s third initiative, the Good Jobs, Great Cities Academy. The Academy, in partnership with the National League of Cities, will develop city-led solutions to upskill and reskill workers for high-demand jobs.

These initiatives are meant to prepare the workforce for recent investments in new and growing sectors, including $220 billion announced by the administration for infrastructure projects and $470 billion in private-sector investments in clean energy and manufacturing.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced it would invest $70 million to establish a Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute at Arizona State University which will combat greenhouse gas emissions from industrial process heating. The new ASU-led effort will be called Electrified Processes for Industry Without Carbon or EPIXC.

“This investment is another example of the positive economic impact Arizona’s universities make for the state, from workforce development to cutting-edge research,” Seiden said. “The Arizona Chamber was proud to support the effort to bring this investment to Arizona. Our universities are an essential part of the state’s economic development strategy.”

Sridhar Seetharaman, director of EPIXC and vice dean for research and innovation at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, said the new institute will support a transition to clean electricity for process heating, which is thermal energy used in preparing materials and manufactured goods.

These innovations could significantly reduce carbon emissions in many industrial sectors, including iron, steel, petroleum, food and beverage, forestry, and cement. This is the sixth manufacturing institute that the DOE has invested in to support private-public partnerships that innovate clean energy solutions.

“This strong array of academic, community and industry partners will propel the EPIXC team to groundbreaking impact via scientific and technological leadership, workforce development and just energy transition,” said Sally Morton, executive vice president of knowledge enterprise at ASU. “These objectives fit squarely within the responsibility and mandate of the New American University, and ASU is honored to lead this Manufacturing USA institute for the nation.”

Craig Ruiz

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