Fitzgerald compares Toledo, with its 6,000 solar management, research or manufacturing jobs; 15 research or manufacturing locations; and public-private research collaboration (the University of Toledo--who knew?) with Austin.
You know, Austin, with its forward-thinking 30% by 2020 city renewable portfolio standard. Austin, home of the Clean Energy Incubator that is run in conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the University of Texas. Austin Energy, the municipally owned utility that opens up its grid for testing to start-ups and early-stage clean tech companies in solar (HelioVolt) and energy storage.
Turns out Austin has produced and retained, by Fitzgerald's estimates, a few hundred jobs in research and manufacturing and a few thousand in design and construction. Not bad, but worth all the tax incentives and fuss?
The secret sauce for Toldeo was the presence of extensive glass manufacturing facilities and associated know-how (Owens-Corning), a key solar array component.
The state of Ohio also has been boosting renewable energy R&D and job training through an Advanced Energy Job Stimulus Fund. Combine that with an effective privately funded regional growth partnership, and you have the right stuff to retool rustbelt facilities and workers for the 21st century. Upon that setting grew the nation's largest and most cost-competitive thin-film solar manufacturer First Solar, along with Xunlight and Solargystics.
The story of Toledo's clean tech industry goes far beyond the shores of Lake Erie into Asia, Europe and other global locations, where Toledo-based companies are setting up manufacturing and distribution operations to supplement US production.
So now when you think of global clean tech incubation centers, think of Austin, along with the Silicon Valley, Boston, Denver, and Southern California. And then dream of what can be done for the economy of our nation's metro regions based on, yes, The Toledo Model.