The untapped community impact of electric vehicle charging stations
As the adoption of electric vehicles (EV) continues to grow, the presence of accessible and reliable electric vehicle charging stations becomes increasingly important.
EV chargers not only provide the means to power electric vehicles, but also bring positive impact to communities. From reducing air pollution and improving public health to stimulating economic opportunities and advancing clean energy technologies, EV chargers play a vital role in shaping greener, more resilient communities for the future.
Electric vehicle charging stations bring more jobs to communities
One of the most prominent impacts of building electric vehicle charging stations is job creation—including manufacturing, installation, maintenance and electric vehicle servicing.
According to a study conducted by Energy and Environmental Research in 2021, it revealed that the Biden Administration’s goal to establish 500,000 fast chargers by 2030 would lead to a significant demand for skilled workers. This was estimated at approximately 28,950 job-years between 2021 and 2030.
Additionally, the report examined the workforce requirements in California and identified the primary areas of need for EV charging infrastructure. The study indicated that electricians and electrical contractors, general contractors and planning and design consultants would be the professions experiencing the highest demand.
These findings were evidenced in December of 2022 when California Governor Gavin Newsom announced $2.9B in funding for more electric vehicle charging stations (a 30X increase), which will result in over 90,000 new chargers.
“California is bringing our roads and highways into the 21st Century with electric vehicle chargers in every community, in every corner of our state.” Governor Gavin Newsom
The nature of EVs should be a positive impact on local communities
Governor Newsom’s quote, specifically “in every community, in every corner of our state,” leaves a lot to the imagination for Economic Development departments in The Golden State—and the imagination is where innovation takes place.
It appears traveling on the great open highway has come full circle. In the past, drivers would need to pull out their map and plan their route, stops for gas, stops for lunch, etc. But with Google Maps, many drivers jump in their car and take off.
EV road trippers know it’s not quite that simple. Limited range in EVs means drivers need to stop at electric vehicle charging stations—which means planning your trip accordingly. Many travelers will plan their charging stops around eating, shopping or simply stretching their legs.
An influx of electric vehicle charging stations leads itself to dollars flowing into the community from non-residents. Many cities are contemplating offering charging for free in hopes of seeing those dollars spent at their local businesses—although, historically, travelers tend to opt for chain restaurants and gas stations during pit stops.
But, what if there was a more thoughtful, innovative approach to this?
There have been examples of this scattered throughout many cities, counties and states. In an attempt to bolster attendance and spending at their state parks, The West Virginia Office of Energy installed electric vehicle charging stations at all of their state parks. They allow visitors to charge their electric vehicles for free which has resulted in increased visitors. This, in turn, has generated more foot traffic and dollars spent at their gift shops and restaurants—and some impromptu overnight stays for visitors to soak in the natural beauty.
The untapped potential of electric vehicle charging stations for economic development
The City of Lancaster, CA has a history of tackling the unique challenges of economic development with innovative thinking and execution. Their Economic Development team launched a shop local program and, recently, through their partnership with Bludot digitized these efforts.
This resulted in the city launching Open Rewards—a shop local platform that gives consumers rewards for supporting local businesses. These rewards—5% cash back on all purchases at participating businesses—can then be redeemed at other businesses within Lancaster’s city limits.
The concept is incredibly straightforward:
Lancaster partners with Bludot to create this new shop local experience
The city’s businesses are loaded into the program—with no work required on their part
Consumers download the app and shop like they normally would
If a shopper’s credit card is linked, the rewards are automatically deposited into their account. If no credit card is linked, shoppers just take a picture of their receipt and upload it
The rewards are redeemed at participating businesses and the money stays within the local community
This innovative approach to shopping locally has resulted in a 28X return on investment (ROI)—meaning that for every $1 spent in the program, $28 is returned to the community.
Now, back to electric vehicle charging stations. What if instead of “free” charging, cities gave rewards to individuals who used their EV chargers. These rewards would only be redeemable at businesses within that city. And, with most charging stations being in close proximity to restaurants and retail establishments, this would be a more thoughtful way of driving dollars back into the community.
Direct current fast chargers can charge an EV to 80% from 20 minutes to an hour, while level 2 chargers can charge a battery to 80% within 4-10 hours. This leaves plenty of time to explore the local community.
Road trips are synonymous with fast food and rest stops. But, if there were incentive to forego the Arby’s or McDonald’s and visit a local restaurant, most people would opt to support local.
The benefits of a reward-based approach to electric vehicle charging stations
Electric vehicle charging stations provide an ideal opportunity for businesses to increase customer dwell time. By strategically locating charging stations near shops, restaurants or entertainment venues, businesses can benefit from increased customer engagement and boost revenue.
Open Rewards provides local governments a unique opportunity to boost local sales since rewards received may only be used in businesses designated by the city. Implementing a rewards system for EV charging stations positions the city and businesses as forward-thinking. The influx of tourists and visitors stimulates the local economy, generating increased revenue for businesses.
Open Rewards also allows the city to collect valuable data. By analyzing charging patterns, preferences and customer behavior, cities can gain insights into local business needs. This information facilitates personalized strategies, allowing cities to tailor support programs to suit their unique community. This can help build stronger relationships with local businesses and drive local customer retention.
Bludot analyzed survey results from Open Rewards shoppers and found that 70% of users said the program directly influenced their decision to shop local. With an overwhelming majority of Open Rewards shoppers prioritizing their local mom-and-pop shops, a rewards-centric approach to EV charging could have tremendous positive economic impact on communities.
Charge your economic development efforts with Bludot
Bludot’s innovative Open Rewards program can help empower local communities that embrace the shift—and initial investment—to support electric vehicles. Keeping local dollars local is a core mission of Bludot’s, and of the over 130 communities that have partnered with us.
To see how Bludot can help navigate the exciting, uncharted waters of the local community impact of electric vehicle charging stations, grab some time with us here.