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Published: Friday, 3/14/2003

Area projects vie for state funds

Northwest Ohio has ties to two of eight projects vying for $20 million in Wright Centers of Innovation funding from the state to be awarded this spring.

Those efforts prove northwest Ohio is in the hunt to get a share of dollars earmarked to help the state become an unsurpassed region for research and commercialization, said Jean Carter Ryan, deputy director of the Ohio Department of Development's economic development division.

“What Ohio needs to do is not to be the best in Ohio, we need to be the best in the world,” she said yesterday during the annual meeting for Northwest Ohio Regional Economic Development in Maumee. Ms. Ryan was the keynote speaker. Most of her speech was devoted to detailing Gov. Bob Taft's 10-year, $1.6 billion plan to expand high technology in the state, including the Wright Centers initiative.

Toledo's Dana Corp., the University of Toledo, and Toledo Jeep Assembly's parent DaimlerChrysler AG are among collaborators on a $20 million request for Wright Centers funding.

That project, led by Case Western Reserve University of Cleveland, focuses on fuel cell applications.

UT and Bowling Green State University are among collaborators on a $10 million request headed up by the University of Akron.

That project focuses on making advances in the polymer industry.

BG and UT, meanwhile, are lead organizations for three other technology-related projects seeking money from the state's $10 million capital project fund.

Other northwest Ohio companies and entities are involved with those and other proposals, Ms. Ryan noted.

Another point to the governor's so-called Third Frontier program involves a $500 million bond issue expected to be on the November ballot, Ms. Ryan said.

That money, if approved, would help projects by supplying operating dollars.

At yesterday's meeting, Toledo Molding & Die and Larry McDougle, president of Northwest State Community College in Archbold, received NORED Awards from the organization.

Toledo Molding recently announced it is building a $14.4 million plant in Tiffin, Ohio, to replace one in nearby Sycamore and adding 65 jobs there.

There were 88 capital projects announced in northwest Ohio last year, up from 74 in 2001. Those created 1,430 jobs and retained 5,605 posts, said Mike Jay, the organization's president last year and Fremont's economic development director.

Jerry Hayes, Defiance County's economic development director, was elected the organization's president for this year.

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