North & South America

Webinar: Be Electrified in Illinois

Virtual: Thursday 10 March 2022, 15:00 (GMT)

SMMT is delighted to welcome Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity as an International Partner for SMMT Electrified. Prior to SMMT Electrified, we will be hosting a webinar with Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to share about the electrification opportunities for UK automotive businesses.


  • Introduction – SMMT
  • Why choose Illinois? – Sylvia Garcia, Director, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
  • Lion Electric Chooses Illinois – The Right Choice, Nate Baguio, Senior Vice President of Commercial Development, Lion Electric
  • Wiegel Tool Works successfully growing its manufacturing in the EV industry, Ryan Wiegel, VP of Operations, Wiegel Tool Works
  • Q&A
  • Closing remarks  by Margo Markopoulos, Director, Illinois Office of Trade and Investment

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Speaker bios

Sylvia I. Garcia Acting Director
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO)

Sylvia I. Garcia leads a team comprised of eleven core bureaus and several administrative offices that are focused on deploying capital investments, modernizing workforce development, supporting growth of small and large businesses, assisting communities with development and infrastructure, and attracting equitable investment throughout Illinois. Director Garcia brings 17 years of experience from the public and private sectors to her role as leader of the state’s economic development arm. Originally from the Detroit metro area, Garcia was inspired at a young age to join the work of helping cities and communities prosper. Garcia previously served as a Principal Consultant at WSP USA, and prior to that she served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), managing the day-to-day operations of the nation’s second largest transit agency. With extensive service in government – including roles at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, and as an Obama appointee at the U.S. Department of Transportation – Garcia has committed her career to developing public policy and capital programs that expand inclusive economic growth.


Nate Baguio Senior Vice President of Commercial Development
Lion Electric

Nate Baguio has been working in the transportation industry for over 30 years. His career has taken him from behind the wheel of a school bus to launching the largest deployment of heavy-duty electric vehicles in North America. Currently, he is working to electrify the transportation industry as Senior Vice President of Commercial Development for one of the nation’s leading EV manufacturers, The Lion Electric Co. Since joining Lion in 2018, he has helped position Lion as the leader in electric school bus deployments across North America. Baguio is leading the Commercial Development team in warming markets in target states across the United States, advocating stakeholders and policy makers to fund more money into the EV industry, and helping Lion attain more of the available funding for both Lion’s bus and truck lines. His work has contributed to Lion’s exponential growth in the market and position as a policy leader in the EV industry. Baguio is proud to not only provide a healthy breathing environment to students, drivers, technicians, and communities, but to also help educate the industry on the favorable economics of operating zero emission, electric medium and heavy-duty vehicles. He is determined to impact as many people across North America as possible to join in the fight for environmental justice and help create a cleaner, safer world.


Ryan Wiegel Vice President of Operations
Wiegel Tool Works, Inc.

Ryan began working in the metal stamping and forming industry during his childhood years in the early 2000s when his father would bring him to work in their 3rd-generation family business specializing in metal stamping and manufacturing. He started his full-time career at Wiegel Tool Works in 2009 working in production and logistics and now leads and co-owns the 60+ million-dollar business alongside his brother and sister. With the company’s strong emphasis and focus on using the latest technologies for efficient and quality production, Ryan is currently the head of all new equipment acquisitions and upgraded technological advances throughout the organization. He also leads the operation’s facility and building infrastructure improvements and spearheads building and operational growth and expansion. With over 13 years of experience, Ryan has been a large influence on Wiegel’s advancement into the EV market. With a high demand for electrical copper busbars and electrical contacts and connectors of various metals, thicknesses and complexities, Ryan was behind the collaboration and facilitation of new robotics and automation lines to implement battery component and battery pack manufacturing production for some of the largest electric vehicle manufacturers known in the industry. Wiegel’s approach to custom manufactured solutions means developing new processes and production technologies that cannot be procured in the market. It takes partnership between Wiegel engineers, the customer and high-end tech brands to bring together a custom system that fits the customer’s requirements for new ground-breaking products. Wiegel is now becoming known as the largest battery component supplier in Illinois and the midwest U.S. Ryan currently serves as the treasurer of the Technology and Manufacturing Association’s (TMA) Education Foundation Board of Directors focused on coaching and educating the next generation of manufacturers and engineers and offering support and training to local manufacturing education. Ryan previously served on the PMA Chicagoland Board of Directors to collaborate and discuss industry constraints and business solutions with other Chicagoland manufacturing businesses. Additionally, Ryan is an active member in the Illinois Manufacturer’s Association (IMA) and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Ryan is pleased to be a leading provider to the EV market with turnkey battery component solutions and proudly participates in the EV supply chain to contribute to future technology, global efficiency, worldwide energy conservation and sustainability and a strengthening impact to a global economy.


Margo Markopoulos Director
Illinois Office of Trade and Investment

Margo Markopoulos has served as the Director of Illinois Office of Trade and Investment since 2015, and as the Export Program Director since 2012. Bringing over 20 years of international experience to her position, Margo leads the Department’s strategies to increase Illinois’ exports and attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the State. In her capacity as Office Director, Margo manages Illinois’ regional foreign offices, located in six countries and the Illinois State Trade and Export Promotion (ISTEP) program, which assists hundreds of companies annually to expand globally through exports.

Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, Margo worked in the Governor’s Office of Consular Affairs, where she worked closely with the Chicago Diplomatic Corps and planned gubernatorial trade missions for several Illinois Governors, including the State of Illinois’ historic humanitarian mission to Cuba in 1999, which brought the first sitting U.S. Governor to the island in over four decades.

Margo also previously worked as an Expatriate-Repatriate Policy Consultant for Fortune 500 corporations, and she managed foreign business delegations to encourage bilateral trade.

Margo received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois in Chicago and is a certified International Protocol consultant. Since 2003, Margo has been a member of Children’s Service Board of the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago and is active in several international trade organizations. Margo is a native of Illinois and resides in Chicago with her husband.



We are also holding webinars looking at electrification opportunities in Türkiye, Germany and Hungary.


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