City Clean Tech Incubation: How Does Toledo Beat Austin?

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Great article in The American Progressive this week from Northeastern University's Joan Fitzgerald on how Toledo, Ohio, has become a mecca for clean tech development, particularly thin-film solar.
Holy Toledo!

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.

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About the Author

    Warren Karlenzig
Warren Karlenzig, Common Current founder and president, has worked with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (lead co-author United Nations Shanghai Manual: A Guide to Sustainable Urban Development in the 21st Century, 2011); United Nations Center for Regional Development (training of mayors from 13 Asian nations on city sustainable economic development and technology); provinces of Guizhou and Guangdong, China (urban sustainability master planning and green city standards); the United States White House and Environmental Protection Agency (Eco-Industrial Park planning and Industrial Ecology primer); the nation of South Korea ("New Cities Green Metrics"); The European Union ("Green and Connected Cities Initiative"); the State of California ("Comprehensive Recycling Communities" and "Sustainable Community Plans"); major cities; and the world's largest corporations developing policy, strategy, financing and critical operational capacities for 20 years.

Present and recent clients include the Guangzhou Planning Agency; the Global Forum on Human Settlements; the Shanghai 2010 World Expo Bureau; the US Department of State; the Asian Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the non-governmental organization Ecocity Builders; a major mixed-use real estate development corporation; an educational sustainability non-profit; and global corporations. Read more here.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Warren Karlenzig published on April 14, 2009 11:16 AM.

Common Current and South Korea's High-Growth Low-Carbon Plans was the previous entry in this blog.

Stimulus Impact on Growth of Renewables: EIA Releases Special Forecasts is the next entry in this blog.

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