KANSAS CITY, Mo. — U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited Kansas City on Monday to tour two major project sites.
Buttigieg first joined Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and other local leaders for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of a new $1.5 billion terminal at Kansas City International Airport.
“Even for a transportation secretary, it is not often that you get to mark a major new airport terminal in America, and that makes this a very special day,” Buttigieg said.
The terminal is set to open for travelers Tuesday and will feature new parking, new security, new restaurants and new artwork.
Later in the day, Buttigieg met with U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, Kansas Lt. Gov. David Toland, De Soto Mayor Rick Walker, Panasonic North American Energy President Allan Swan and Johnson County Commission Chair Mike Kelly to tour the site of the future Panasonic electric vehicle battery plant in De Soto, Kansas.
“What you see is opportunity,” Buttigieg said during a press conference with reporters. “What you see is ambition for the future of the economy both in this region and of the country.”
The $4 billion investment is unique to America’s heartland. Buttigieg said private investments like this have been a big focus of President Joe Biden’s agenda.
“It’s why we have pushed so hard on some of these bills,” Buttigieg said later Monday. “Now we’re seeing results in terms of investments that the private sector is making.”
The @USDOT Secretary @PeteButtigieg just finished a stop @PanasonicNA future EV battery manufacturing facility in the @CityofDeSotoKS. Now he’s @UMKC in @KansasCity. @fox4kc pic.twitter.com/3M0uqE56SY— Jonathan Lewis Ketz (@JonKetz) February 27, 2023
Buttigieg said projects like this are putting America back on the map in making the U.S. the world’s leader in manufacturing.
“Look somebody is going to lead the EV revolution,” Buttigieg continued. “China definitely wants to be in first place. We want America to be in first place.”
As to when the plant will open, Swan said it will be in about two years, or the first quarter of 2025.
“Johnson County [Community] College and a number of the colleges and universities will be helping us put people together and start training,” Swan said during Monday’s press conference.
“That will actually start to happen the late part of this year, so the second half of this year, you’ll already see us talking about colleges, getting courses in places, getting people ready.”
Buttigieg wrapped up his visit with a stop at University of Missouri-Kansas City to tour the campus and meet with students.
While at UMKC, Buttigieg discussed a $2 million University Transportation Center (UTC) grant focused on finding new ways to improve the sustainability, resilience and equity of transportation infrastructure.