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The Suburbanite
  • Amid economic gloom, a bright spot

  • The issue: Ohio’s Third Frontier

    Our view: State budget crunch won’t hurt program that has been good to Stark

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  • The issue: Ohio’s Third Frontier
    Our view: State budget crunch won’t hurt program that has been good to Stark
    All of the angst being expressed about Ohio’s economic troubles — from high unemployment to the colossal hole in the next state budget — is totally understandable. But that dark side of the economy makes it all the more important for Stark Countians to also remember a big contributor to the bright side, here and across the state: Ohio’s Third Frontier.
    This high-tech economic development program is ensconced in the Ohio Constitution, thanks to voters statewide, who last November extended it through mid-2015. So its work will continue, unaffected by the budget-cutting that’s about to begin in Columbus.
    The Third Frontier Commission has awarded millions of dollars for research and development projects here. Just last month, it approved another $1 million for Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems, which is working with Stark State College of Technology (where it is headquartered) and RoviSys Co. of Aurora to develop solid oxide fuel cells.
    Interestingly, according to Crain’s Cleveland Business, the Third Frontier Commission held off on awarding three other fuel cell-related grants in January “because the market for the technology is growing slowly.”
    “Slowly” is a word that Mark Kvamme, Ohio’s new economic development director, wants to hear less often. He reportedly wants to steer more Third Frontier money to projects that will create jobs quickly, within three to five years. We’ll take the grant to Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems as a vote of confidence, and Stark County will take all the economic-development votes of confidence it can get.