Alabama Governor Kay Ivey awarded the University of Alabama $16.5 million to construct a new building on its Tuscaloosa campus where UA, Alabama Power and Mercedes Benz U.S. International will work together to meet the needs of the fast-growing electric vehicle market.

A University spokesperson announced the project Friday afternoon and said the funding for the project comes from bonds issued by the Alabama Public School and College Authority intended to fund capital improvements for the state's education system.

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The money will build the tentatively named Smart Communities and Innovation Building, although the building's final name and the total scope of the project are subject to approval but the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees.

“We are deeply grateful to Gov. Ivey and our state elected officials for their leadership in boosting the University’s existing expertise and research innovation in the area of transportation, and are truly appreciative for support from the Board of Trustees and the UA System Office in moving this transformative project forward,” said UA President Stuart R. Bell. “The Smart Communities and Innovation Building will be the only one of its kind in the United States and is a prime example of the type of partnerships necessary for innovation and workforce and economic development.”

Within the building, the University will team up with Alabama Power and MBUSI to create the Alabama Mobility and Power Initiative, a research and development hub for to chart the future of electric vehicles in the state, develop infrastructure for charging the vehicles and plan for the anticipated explosive growth of the electric vehicle market.

MBUSI's Tuscaloosa County plant is currently undergoing a billion-dollar expansion to support the production of electric vehicles and the company has pledged to exclusively produce electric vehicles by the end of the decade.

“This initiative will further strengthen UA’s status as a leader in mobility and power research and provides a great opportunity for a strong coalition of partners to address innovation, workforce development and commercialization in mobility and power research,” said Dr. Russell J. Mumper, UA vice president for research and economic development. “The University of Alabama looks forward to collaborating with Alabama Power Company and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International.”

These partnerships will create mentoring, internship and career possibilities for both undergraduate and graduate students at UA while also conducting "world-class research that is on the cutting edge of industry."

Stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread for more updates on the project as they become available.

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