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Third Sun 

"We've gone from two employees to 20 employees in the time that we've been here," Michelle says.

A technology business founded in a remote farmhouse with only dial-up Internet service may seem an unlikely beginning for one of the region's top providers of solar and wind power systems, but that's just how Geoff and Michelle Greenfield of Third Sun Solar & Wind Power Ltd. got their start. Third Sun is a full-service provider of clean energy systems, current serving the Midwest. The company's portfolio includes residential, commercial, government and non-profit clients, as well as various work with contractors, architects and engineers.

In 2009, Third Sun Solar & Wind Power Ltd. was named 32nd on Inc. 500 magazine's list of fastest-growing energy companies and 742nd overall on the annual Inc. 5000. Not long after Third Sun was founded 10 years ago, an MBA team from Ohio University took the young company on as a case study. One suggestion the team made was that Third Sun move into the Innovation Center, which they then did when the center opened in 2003. "We've gone from two employees to 20 employees in the time that we've been here," Michelle says. Aside from providing a desperately needed high-speed Internet connection, the Innovation Center allowed Third Sun to grow out of an initial one-room office into a two, then three-room office, and eventually into the nine-room office that the company uses today. The center also provides warehouse space, which Michelle believes to be vital to the organization's day-to-day operations. "We used to use storage units. Now we can take freight and store it here, right down the hall."

Third Sun Solar has the advantage of longevity over newer solar and wind tech companies. The company is also a premiere dealer for SunPower Inc. Solar Systems, the most efficient solar panels on the market right now. "We have the technological advantage in that we can put more solar technology in a smaller space, because [the panels] are more efficient," Michelle said. This year, Third Sun is working with the city of Akron to install a rooftop solar array at the Akron Metro Rapid Transit Authority. Two half-million dollar projects with the Kentucky National Guard are also in the works for early next year. "Our affiliation here with Ohio University [via the Innovation Center] has also helped us raise our profile, locally and regionally," Michelle says.

Third Sun's significance as a growing business is due to its environmental impact; the company seeks to encourage people to purchase and use renewable energy. "We're enabling thousands of kilowatt hours to be produced with non-polluting energy rather than coal," Michelle says.