ELYRIA — Federal, state, county and city officials joined together yesterday in Elyria to celebrate the grand opening of BASF’s new production plant that will produce cathode materials used in lithium-ion batteries. The batteries will power full electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

“What a great day,” Mayor Holly Brinda said to the crowd.” “This is the kind of event a mayor likes.”

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, Argonne National Laboratory and about 150 BASF employees attended the event at the plant’s 120 Pine St. facility.

Construction of the new plant was an investment of more than $50 million and was supported  by a $24.6 million grant from the DOE. BASF was selected as one of only two licensed suppliers of cathode materials. The new four-story, 70,000-square-foot plant will create about 20 full-time positions in Elyria, according to Brinda. The operation is supported by BASF battery materials research laboratories in Beachwood.

Materials that will be produced at the plant will be used by BASF’s customers to produce the advanced lithium-ion batteries. The batteries will drive the vehicles into the next generation.

Frank Bozich, president of the catalysts division, said he remembered when they sat down years ago to see what it would look like.

“You guys (Elyria) have exceeded our expectations in the way you executed this product,” Bozich said.

The Elyria facility is the most versatile and a milestone for the city and the state, he said. The facility will become a focal point in creating advanced materials in electromobility and Elyria will become a global leader in battery materials, he added.

“We are proud of the work we are doing in Elyria,” he said.

Hans Engel, chairman and CEO of BASF corporation, said that the company generates $100 billion in sales globally. In 2050, the Earth’s population will reach nine billion people and will use three times the energy the Earth can provide. He said they need to be thinking of other ways to use energy. Electromobility will play an important role and will have a small environmental footprint.

“There will be ups and downs in electromobility ... but we will invest for a sustainable future,” Engel said.

Dave Howell, of the DOE, said that after the recovery act, 35 new plants sprouted up for battery production. He said BASF is one of 10 companies that received the grant and this grant will help move electric vehicles.

“But, of course, this is the first milestone of many more to come,” Howell said.

Howell told attendees he is looking forward to seeing the first set of materials shipped out.

Senator Sherrod Brown said the plant is an example of a partnership between federal government and a local community. He added that the auto industry is taking off and Ohio is the number three auto industry manufacturing state in the country.

“We’re thrilled with this expansion and partnership with BASF,” Brown said of the more than 100-year-old company.

Brinda said if they capitalize on the plant, it will be able to attract more green jobs and high tech companies in the future.

“Elyria’s workforce will benefit from this $500 million dollar expansion,” Brinda said.

Zach Wyeland, who works at the plant, said that the Elyria plant is not making the final product citing that another company will need to assemble the battery.

“This is just a puzzle piece,” Wyeland said.