Organizers say the location of the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center will be a key not only to the downtown's revitalization, but the entire region.
The Tech Belt board decided on the Kresge Building at 125 W. Market St. as the site for the green technology incubator. It is hoped the building can be made ready by the second or third quarter of 2011 and that some related projects can even begin before that.
Mayor Michael O'Brien called the site a major catalyst for growth in all phases of the city, including downtown, and the creation of good jobs.
Attorney John Pogue, chairman of the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center, explains rationale of picki
''This will serve as a driver,'' O'Brien said. ''It will create high value jobs and investment for the city and the region.''
The building is owned by Taylor Holding Co. Ohio LLC. and currently houses Market on the Square, a shop that sells crafts, art and gifts made by local artisans. The business is managed by Holly Taylor Meyer, a daughter of John Taylor, who is principal owner of Taylor Holding Co.
Holly Taylor said the market will be closing just after the Christmas season so preparations can get under way there to house the center.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
John Pogue, Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center chairman, stands outside the Kresge Building at 125 W. Market St. in downtown Warren on Thursday shortly after it was announced the building will house the center. To see or purchase these photos and other items, visit cu.tribtoday.com.
According to the Trumbull County Auditor's website, the building was purchased in 2003 for $115,000.
John Pogue, chairman of the Tech Belt board, said about 20 locations were first considered and they were then winnowed down to three. He said the Kresge Building is a good site because it is in the center of downtown directly across from Courthouse Square, it is near the new Eastern Gateway Community College Warren Center, and with 27,000 square feet, it has enough room for office space and technical facilities.
U.S. Rep. Timothy J. Ryan, D-Niles, said the center will be on the cutting edge of environmental technology and will add to the Mahoning Valley's reputation earned during its heyday of being an innovator and in the forefront of new ideas.
''To have this incubator here is a signal to the community that you can be an entrepreneur in this valley,'' Ryan said.
State Sen. Capri Cafaro, D-Hubbard, who helped secure $500,000 in state money for the project, said she remembered discussions about the project almost a year ago and said it proves that things are beginning to turn around for the area.
''We are changing the face of the Mahoning Valley and the City of Warren hour by hour,'' Cafaro said. ''This is a very exciting time for us. I believe our best days are still ahead.''
State Rep. Tom Letson, D-Warren, said Gov. Ted Strickland asked lawmakers to streamline the process for alternative energy providers, and the Tech Belt is part of that effort because that will spur more businesses in the state to work on alternative energy.
''This is a dream that has become a reality in a lot less time that I ever would've thought,'' Letson said.
Dr. Martin Abraham, dean of the S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) College, said the center fits in with the university's mission of providing training for students to get work in the real world and then providing them with jobs in the area so they can stay here.
''We want our graduates to be employees and to learn this technology,'' Abraham said. ''That's our reason to participate.''