Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tech Belt Advanced Energy

I'm still trying to connect all the dots, but there is some movement on the Tech Belt front:

The U.S. Department of Energy is looking at establishing “a handful” of advanced energy research commercialization centers around the country, said Chris Thompson, director of marketing for the fund, which has put more than $1 million into regional advanced energy initiatives.

The Fund for Our Economic Future is a Cleveland-based group of philanthropies collaborating on efforts to promote growth in northeastern Ohio.

This summer Ryan, D-17 Ohio, secured $2.2 million for the Warren Technology and Business Center for Energy Sustainability proposed for downtown Warren.

Mayor Michael O’Brien, who also traveled to Washington recently along with representatives of the Regional Chamber and the Youngstown Business Incubator, reported that an economic adviser to President Obama said Warren could also receive funds from the automobile task force to establish the incubator. Companies represented at that meeting involved in the energy incubator concept nationwide “were interested in what Warren has to offer,” he said.

“We need to make sure that the [proposed] Tech Belt between Cleveland and Pittsburgh gets one of those labs,” said Thompson, who filled in for Whitehead at the breakfast, sponsored by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber. Fund officials believe that advanced energy represents a big opportunity, and has the potential to enjoy the same kind of growth as the bioscience industry.

The story here is the coordination of key actors in the Mahoning Valley (sans parochial Girard). There exists a potent mix of doers and thinkers who are all on the same page. It is remarkable, particularly for the Rust Belt. For the record, these same vanguard actors are still on the margins in Pittsburgh. I'm a big Pittsburgh booster, but this is one of the area's shortcomings.

Entrepreneurship reigns supreme in the Mahoning Valley. Let Dayton have its aerospace cluster. If you want to start a business, then move to Youngstown.

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