University-sponsored summit identifies needs, state government kicks in funding to spur technology
Dec. 17, 2007
By Kim Corriher
A recent effort by the Consortium for Energy, Economics and the Environment (CE3) at Ohio University is helping to spur regional economic development through the use of technological advancements in the energy industry.
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) provided funding to CE3, within Ohio University's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, for the Appalachian Ohio Energy Economic Development Summit. The October summit, held in Reynoldsburg, brought together more than 100 officials from the 29-county Ohio Appalachian region to discuss advancements in the energy industry as tools for economic development and environmental sustainability.
The Appalachian Regional Commission and Ohio Governor's Office of Appalachia have allocated $120,000 to support follow-up efforts from the summit.
U.S. Sen. George Voinovich and ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne Pope conceived the summit following a joint visit to Pomeroy earlier in the year. Their stop drew attention to the need to consider energy when exploring opportunities for economic growth and job creation within the region.
"(With) Appalachia's long history and strong leadership in the energy industry, there are tremendous opportunities for the region to help solve our nation's energy problems and enjoy the economic benefits," said Voinovich in welcoming participants to the summit.
In addition to bringing together regional leadership to facilitate dialogue about the issue, the summit also resulted in the identification of common areas of need and available resources to help facilitate opportunities.
The CE3 group recently released a summary of the areas of identified need, which are intended to steer the project as it moves forward:
- Inventory and mapping of resources at the local, sub-regional and regional level. This information can be used to identify projects that build upon local assets.
- Coordinated workforce development. There is a need to work with colleges and universities in the region to ensure that students are being trained for current and future jobs and to adjust that as the needs of the region change.
- A database or clearinghouse of information on energy-related industries and businesses. Local economic development officials need to know where to get information and how to assess the validity of a potential opportunity.
- Feasibility studies of specific energy-related business opportunities.
- Technology resources and technical assistance. New industries need broadband and other technology infrastructure and support. Technical assistance can help traditional industries transition to take advantage of new advanced energy opportunities.
- Business planning, market studies and other business assistance. This assistance helps identify the potential market, ensures the business concept is sound and helps prepare entrepreneurs who are starting new, energy-related businesses.
- Energy efficiency assistance. Job retention is an important piece of economic development. With increasing energy costs, helping businesses to be more energy efficient can help them stay competitive and retain employees.
- Business financing has traditionally underserved Appalachian Ohio. Additional financing is needed to help the region take advantage of the new energy-related opportunities.
"Southeastern Ohio has a unique opportunity to stay at the forefront of energy job creation and retention by embracing the development, commercialization and manufacture of new technologies and services," said Scott Miller, director of CE3. "Our hope is that the dialogue begun (at the summit) will continue throughout the region and help build upon the region's strength in energy job creation."
The summary of needs and additional information about the summit can be found on the CE3's Web site. Information about eligibility and applications for funding through the project will be available through the Web site beginning in January.