COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Businesses in the fuel cell industry know that the challenge with taking fuel cell technology from the laboratory to the real world comes down to three things: cost, reliability and efficiency. Fuel cells have endless applications from powering a laptop to heating and cooling your home or business, to transportation and telecommunications applications. However, in order to become a reality, the industry needs to reduce the costs of large-scale manufacturing, enhance manufacturing capabilities for mass production and maintain strong research and development capabilities to spark innovation.
Fuel cell businesses require an ideal environment that combines a business-friendly climate, deep industry knowledge base, a well-educated workforce, dedicated universities and research institutions, and most importantly, a strong supply chain to get products to market.
"It's safe to say, there is not a fuel cell manufactured in the United States that does not have at least one component that is made in Ohio," said Pat Valente, executive director of the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition. "Ohio is home to one of the richest supply chains in the country and is able to accommodate every component needed for the fuel cell industry."
This month, fuel cell industry leaders representing some of the world's largest fuel cell businesses will explore the economic opportunities Ohio's fuel cell supply chain can offer at the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition's annual Fuel Cell Symposium. The event will be held at Kent State Stark University in North Canton, Ohio on April 18-19, 2011.
Ohio is committed to capitalizing on its strength in fuel cells to create and attract 21st century businesses and jobs. Having invested in 95 projects of over $88 million since 2002, which has been leveraged by more than $300 million of federal dollars, Ohio is internationally recognized as a global center in fuel cell research, development and deployment. The state's innovative mix of public and private support, strategic location and highly skilled workforce make Ohio the ideal location for fuel cell companies to jump start their business and call Ohio home.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, one of the most necessary breakthroughs for the commercialization of fuel cell technologies is cost reduction in the large-scale manufacturing capabilities for fuel cells. Without decreased costs and manufacturing efficiencies, businesses will continue to face significant challenges in the costs and time associated with R&D as well as the business expenses of bringing a product to market.
As Valente told the Ohio News Network on its Ohio Means Business program, "If I'm a company, I want to make sure my fuel cell, before it gets to market, is dead-on reliable and relatively cost-efficient for the consumer, the industry or whoever's going to buy it."
That is where Ohio's fuel cell leadership stands out. Ohio is the premier location in the U.S. to establish, grow or expand a fuel cell business. Ohio's supportive business environment and significant government initiatives help companies research, develop and commercialize cutting edge technology in the fuel cell industry.
In order to propel those businesses faster and forward, Ohio offers unique support to fuel cell companies.
The Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition (OFCC) unites industry, academic and government leaders to promote and strengthen Ohio's fuel cell industry and advance innovative fuel cell technology research. The OFCC is the fuel cell trade association in Ohio and is made up of more than 80 companies, academic institutions and government organizations with the shared goal of accelerating fuel cell technology and applications in Ohio.
Through the help of programs such as the Third Frontier Fuel Cell Initiative, Ohio is a prime location for companies dedicated to delivering fuel cell components and fuel cell products to the world. The Ohio Third Frontier Fuel Cell Initiative offers low interest loans, tax credits and infrastructure improvement for fuel cell businesses. Ohio has successfully attracted leading fuel cell companies to the state, including GrafTech and Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems.
Another advantage for fuel cell companies located in Ohio is that, once ready for market, components and finished goods quickly reach their destination anywhere in the U.S. or around the globe through the state's central location and extensive transportation and world-class logistics infrastructure. Ohio is within 600 miles of 60 percent of the U.S. and Canadian population and is within a one-day drive of 70 percent of North America's manufacturing capacity.
Ohio advanced energy companies maximize their productivity, quality and profits with the state's highly skilled green-collar workforce. A dedicated cluster of more than 60,000 specialized workers support Ohio's advanced energy industry, with a total workforce of 5.9 million, among the largest in the nation. A recent U.S. Department of Energy study estimates a net increase of 361,000 to 675,000 jobs is possible by 2035 in fuel cells and hydrogen. Ohio's workforce is prepared to meet the steep rise in demand for skilled green-collar workers.
"As recognition of Ohio's commitment and industry strengths, the State of Ohio was named one of the top five fuel cell states in the country," Valente added.
Ohio's comprehensive supply chain is just one of the key benefits for fuel cell businesses, according to Ed Burghard, executive director of the Ohio Business Development Coalition, the nonprofit organization that markets the state for capital investment. Today's industry leaders have made Ohio a top choice to pursue their personal goals as well.
Ohio promises a perfect balance that allows business owners, their employees and their families the opportunity to achieve both their professional and personal aspirations without having to sacrifice one for the other. Ohio offers businesses an environment that makes it easy to foster work-life balance. The convenience of travel, with short commutes from work to home, lower stress and give more time to priority family activities.
"In Ohio, work-life balance is more than a buzzword; it's the way we do business," said Burghard. "Companies are trying harder to help their employees achieve better work-life balance because this positively impacts a company's bottom line. Ohio's Low-cost, low-stress communities and short commutes create the State of Perfect Balance, where you can achieve both professional and personal success without sacrificing one for the other."
About the Ohio Business Development Coalition
The Ohio Business Development Coalition is a nonprofit organization that provides marketing strategy and implementation to support Ohio's economic development efforts. For more information, visit www.ohiomeansbusiness.com.