LIMA - A team of government, business and education officials have believed they could play with the big boys in high-tech economic development.
More evidence of that surfaced Thursday with Rhodes State College, American Trim, Ohio Northern University, Ohio Energy & Advanced Manufacturing Center and the city winning a $3 million Third Frontier grant.
Lima's project was listed among others with well-known partners - Case Western Reserve, The Ohio State University, Boeing, Rolls-Royce and others. Lima's project was one of 14 finalists and one of seven projects funded with about $20 million from the Third Frontier Wright Projects program.
"There were so many competitors; we were playing with the big universities," said Dorey Diab, vice president of academic affairs at Rhodes. "This will bring a lot of jobs and product commercialization into the area."
American Trim Vice President Rick Pfeifer remembers the documentary and phrase, "Lost in Middle America."
"Based on what I've seen, Lima has been found, is able to play on the world stage in energy and technology development, and can compete on a global scale," Pfeifer said. "We will parlay these grants into federal dollars as well."
The grant will help fund a Materials Deposition Center at American Trim, eventually directly creating 70 jobs and indirectly hundreds over the next few years. American Trim will fund the other half of the $6 million center.
The new center will develop prototypes of products to be shared with American Trim customers such as Whirlpool and then tested with consumers and within a year turned into products in the market.
The first project will be a decorative finish that mimics stainless steel, currently a popular appliance style with consumers, without the downsides of stainless, such as being nonmagnetic (disallowing all those grandchildren photos on the fridge) and tough to keep clean.
American Trim will begin reclaiming a brownfield section of its Grand Avenue facility, company Research and Development Director Steve Hatkevich said, along with engineering of the space. In early 2009, the company will begin construction of equipment and the center and by next summer will hold a grand opening.
Along with immediately creating 10 jobs, American Trim plans to create direct jobs in the next several years and hundreds of others indirectly, along with $1 million in construction work.
The center will complement American Trim's Advanced Materials Commercialization Center, which involves custom manufacturing products already developed, such as the truck bumpers created there now. The new center will develop prototypes of products to be shared with American Trim customers such as Whirlpool and then tested with consumers and within a year turned into products in the market.
The high-tech and energy job development partners are no stranger to gaining dollars from the state's technology economic development effort; American Trim has been involved in five Third Frontier grant applications.
American Trim, The Ohio State University and General Motors won a $1 million Third Frontier grant in March to help develop an affordable hydrogen fuel cell engine. The program is creating 10 new high-wage, high-tech jobs.
The Third Frontier Commission has signaled Lima's strength on new projects is the success demonstrated on previous projects, Mayor David Berger said.
"That's a huge insight into what we're accomplishing here," Berger said. "We've demonstrated real success and that's continuing to open doors on other projects."