Harnessing wind jobs


Industries that once pumped out parts for the auto industry are now trying to get a second life from the
wind industry.
So as the auto industry jobs dry up, local economic development officials are trying to make sure those
industries are in line to become part of the supply chain for the alternative energy industry.
Tom Blaha, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission, recently attended the
annual American Wind Energy Trade Show in Chicago. As part of "Team Ohio," Blaha learned more
about how former auto parts manufacturers can tweak their production lines to make items like bearings,
gears and armatures for the wind energy industry.
A survey of local company capabilities showed that at least two – Jerl Machine in Perrysburg and Advanced
Engineering in Northwood – may be able to get into wind energy with relatively few modifications, Blaha
Earlier this week, he presented a report to the Wood County Commissioners on the latest in economic
development efforts in the county.
Blaha said he has informed and recruited local manufacturers to be part of the wind energy supply chain
by getting them on the Great Lakes Wind Network database.
"It’s basically creating a supply chain before the fact," Blaha explained.
Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown noted that Northwest Ohio should be attractive to the wind industry
not only because of the manufacturing opportunities, but also because wind charts can show the great
potential for customers.
"It’s a hotbed for utilization," Brown said.
Blaha mentioned that Wood County had recently been asked to host a visit from Site Selection Magazine,
based in Atlanta. Officials from the Northwest Ohio Regional Economic Development organization had
suggested Wood County for the tour since it is a "role model" for efforts in alternative
energy and intermodal transportation. The magazine representative visited the new CSX site near North
Baltimore and First Solar in Perrysburg Township.
"It’s going to pay dividends in the future," Blaha predicted of the magazine coverage.
Blaha also reported that he is assisting with a study by Bowling Green State University of the type of
businesses attracted by major intermodal hubs. That information may be used by the economic development
office to target prospective businesses near the CSX site.
In other efforts, Blaha said he participated in WBGU-TV’s "Recession Proofing Your Business"
symposium. He also co-hosted with BGSU a Third Frontier focus group, for the program which provides
funding for commercialization of research in new technologies.

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