'Green' tech to offer jobs in northwest Ohio, official says


Alternative energy technologies are taking root in northwest Ohio, creating potential for job opportunities in the region as companies involved in those technologies grow, a University of Toledo official said yesterday.

"Green" companies involved in solar, wind, and biomass products are well established in the region and many of the job skills needed for these industries have been developed by the region's ties to the auto industry, said Megan Reichert-Kral, UT's director of incubation. The university has the Clean & Alternative Energy Incubator and a Minority Business Incubator.

She spoke about the job opportunities at a daylong Urban Green & Sustainability Forum at the university's Scott Park Campus of Energy and Innovation. The event focused on emerging environmental technologies and how they can help northwest Ohio's economy and work force.

Northwest Ohio is known as a hotbed for solar energy manufacturers, Ms. Reichert-Kral said. But learning to manufacture solar panels isn't necessary to get jobs in the industry.

"Think about the emerging auto industry way back when - everything was new then," she said. "That's about where we are now with solar."

As Americans continue to adopt solar power, workers will be needed to make, install, adapt, design, and maintain solar panels, she said. "There's a broad range of skill that can be used in this market," she added.

The wind energy industry, which is also growing locally, is perfectly suited for northwest Ohio workers trained in auto factories, she said. Wind is all about bending metal, cutting metal, and assembly, she said.

The university has been increasing its green job skill training curriculum while nurturing companies that will create green jobs, Ms. Reichert-Kral said.

Currently, its incubators are home to 18 companies, over half of which are connected to the solar or wind industries. Another five alternative energy firms have graduated from the incubator programs, led by solar panel maker Xunlight Corp., which now has 120 workers.