By David Lawder

CLEVELAND (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen hailed the beginnings of a Midwest “Battery Belt” on Thursday as a result of the Biden administration’s investments in clean energy, infrastructure and semiconductors.

Yellen said in the latest of a series of campaign-flavored economic speeches that manufacturing incentives in recently enacted legislation have led to a wave of private-sector investment in electric vehicles and other green technologies that will lead to thousands of new, well-paying jobs.

“Since January of last year, companies have announced over $100 billion in EV, battery, and charging investments here in America,” Yellen said, citing plans for a $4.4 billion battery plant in central Ohio announced earlier this month by Honda Motor Co and LG Energy Solution.

“The wave of new battery investments in the Midwest has been so significant that some commentators are dubbing the region as the new ‘Battery Belt,’” Yellen said. “We expect to see our economic plan continue to drive a significant amount of capital into good clean energy and manufacturing jobs over the coming months and years.”

Yellen’s speech at the grand opening of the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET), a Cleveland-based nonprofit incubator and education center for small and midsized firms, comes less than two weeks before Nov. 8 congressional elections.

A tight Senate race in Ohio pitting Democratic congressman Tim Ryan against Republican venture capitalist J.D. Vance will help decide which party controls the Senate next year.

One of the pieces of legislation promoted by Yellen, the Inflation Reduction Act — which provides $369 billion in clean energy investments and tax credits, along with healthcare subsidies and $80 billion in new Internal Revenue Service funding — was passed with only Democratic votes.

Yellen also said that bill provides bonus incentives that will encourage investments in low-income communities and cities and sectors that have seen chronic disinvestment and job losses.

“This is a place-based investment strategy designed to broaden economic opportunity across all communities,” Yellen said.

(Reporting by David Lawder; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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