VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Entek’s single largest investment is set to transform Terre Haute, Vigo County’s, economy and catapult Indiana’s electric vehicle industry.

ENTEK is a global company headquartered in Lebanon, Oregon. It is the only U.S. owned and U.S. based producer of ‘wet process’ lithium-ion battery separator materials. The company announced on Tuesday plans to establish operations in Indiana.

“This is a great day for Terre Haute and for the state of Indiana,” Governor Eric Holcomb said. “ENTEK’s decision to locate a new, $1.5 billion battery component manufacturing facility here will have a transformational impact on the West Central Indiana community and the Hoosier Economy for generations to come. This decision cements Indiana’s leadership in the electric vehicle supply chain sector, and we are thrilled to partner with ENTEK to speed the commercialization of U.S. built EVs, (electric vehicles)” Holcomb added.

ENTEK’s future facility in Vigo County is planned to be their largest site with the most employees. The plant is said to be bringing around 640 high-paying jobs to the community.

Larry Keith, CEO of ENTEK International, said ENTEK has three divisions within the company. The largest division is the battery separator division.

“The battery separator goes between the positive and negative plate inside of a car battery, it’s the insulator between the positive and negative.,” Keith said. “It’s microporous, so, it allows the ions to flow through the separator but prevents the battery from shorting,” he added.

ENTEK was awarded a two hundred-million-dollar grant from the Department of Energy.

“The Department of Energy is trying to help boost production of the lithium-ion battery technology in the state,” Keith explained. “90% of it is controlled by the Chinese and I think the government said, ‘no, we need to control this ourselves,'” he added.

Dr. Ty Freed, Dean of the College of Technology at Vincennes University says bringing the production back to the United States is the patriotic thing to do.

“There is a huge push, at the state and federal level to try to bring more ‘homegrown’ production back,” Freed said. “I think that makes us more self-reliant, obviously. And whenever we get into times of need, we can rely on ourselves.”

During phase one, ENTEK says the Terre Haute plant will build about 1.4 billion square meters of separator.

“Right now, there is a demand announced in the United States for about 7 billion square meters of needed separator, based on the amount of batteries that’s going to be built,” Keith said. “There’s plenty of volume opportunity in the country. A car battery is about 35 feet of it. In a lithium electric car, there’s much, much more than that in a battery,” he added.

ENTEK said the decision to select Terre Haute was focused on land and community. Keith mentioned the excellent workforce opportunity, a shovel ready construction site in an industrial park with utilities available as well as excellent opportunities for vocational education.

Vincennes University leaders are excited to support the opportunity by providing graduates with training for the industry.

“I don’t think battery technology is something that is just kind of a flash in the pan. I think it’s here to stay,” Freed said. “People who are looking at these production facilities, I think they’re going to find that this is going to be a long-term situation and I think we’re going to find long term careers,” he added.