WARREN - A tour of the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center was held Friday, the same day it announced it had been awarded a $30,000 grant from the PNC Foundation that will be used to fund the center's operations.
"PNC is committed to supporting business growth in the Mahoning Valley," said PNC Regional President Ted Schmidt in a release. "The hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of the firms involved in TBEIC play a critical role in the economic development and sustained growth of the community."
The TBEIC is in the early stages of renovating the former Kresge building on West Market Street to create a business incubator that helps early stage energy companies develop and commercialize advanced energy technologies.
Ted Theofrastous discusses the incubator being built in Warren.
TBEIC purchased the building earlier this year and is in the process of gutting it. The center's leaders hope to develop 1,200 square feet in 2012.
"Our goal is to become the nexus of advanced energy development," said Ted Theofrastous. "We have the political will to build something that will be a win for the entire region."
An advanced energy expert with NorTech who is helping establish the Warren center, Theofrastous described Warren as being at the center of a 1,000-mile "technology" circle.
Tribune Chronicle / Raymond L. Smith
Ted Theofrastous explains opportunities for companies who choose to partner with the new Warren incubator site that is being built downtown. Theofrastous, with NorTech, toured the site Friday.
"Warren is really ground zero for the tech belt," he said. "The TBEIC has been working to develop a cluster of technology-based companies that will build the infrastructure for companies to get on the energy grid."
He also said that the things that are made in Ohio are those things the energy industry needs to rise to the next level.
"We have the scientific, technical, corporate and financial capabilities to do this," he said. "If we do it right, we will be nationally distinctive and we will be a go-to place."
TBEIC will bring together those companies that need to get on the grid, but do not know how, he said.
"We want to have connections with the utilities, the research universities and colleges to help develop a framework on how to get on the grid," Theofrastous said.
To that end, chief executive of national initiatives Chris Mather said the TBEIC has been recruiting people.
"Companies see a need for an incubator," Mather said. "We are working with Youngstown State University, The Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve and Eastern Gateway Community College."
"We are working to form a coalition of people to work with us, so we can obtain the funding we need ," he said. "We are forming our coalition of companies, so we can get the right kind of funding to make this happen."
NorTech is facilitating efforts to develop TBEIC in partnership with the City of Warren, Trumbull County, YSU, State of Ohio, the National Energy Technology Lab and numerous community members and businesses involved in regional economic development.