Monday, August 10, 2009

Toledo + Solar: Looking Back to Look Ahead

To kick things off, I'm going into the Wall Street Journal's archives for a Jim Carlton story I read in December, 2007.

Toledo Finds the Energy to Reinvent Itself

Desperate pun aside, there's a reason I bookmarked this story 18 months ago and have re-read it since as I keep up on news of Toledo + Solar (a long, slow courtship): I like it.

It's positive, it's optimistic, and it's out of date now, in a good way.

To really speculate whether Toledo has a chance to be a Solar Center, you'd have to know way more about the types of solar technologies being developed and manufactured in Toledo and elsewhere than I currently do. We'll get to some of that; I predict solar will be mentioned often on these pages.

But for now we keep it simple with a few and Optimistic facts:
  • At the time of this story, First Solar was already manufacturing in Perrysburg
  • Solar Fields had already been acquired by a German company
  • Xunlight, which spun out of UT, was already being looked at as a major horse in the race
  • Willard & Kelsey, our new favorite start-up, wasn't even being mentioned yet
We'll get deeper on the prospects of each venture as a NW Ohio presence, but for now we'll leave it at this, one of the early stories that got us talking about the future of Toledo business: if you look at the commercial makeup of regions that have been able to thrive and sustain, one argument is that its best to have a cluster of emerging companies in a common industry

(Side ramble: while it's arguable that the Toledo/Detroit corridor once thrived on the automotive industry largely because one single entrepreneurial man named Henry decided to set up his new-fangled "assembly line" in DTW, a look back at the history of all related industries, from the rubber & tire dynasties of Akron to the steel makers of Cleveland and Pittsburgh to the glass & components companies of T-Town, shows this wasn't really the case.)

So it is that we start this Rust Removal Company with the optimistic note that there are already several interesting businesses in one technology cluster hard at work at calling Toledo home.

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