The maker of body parts and other components decided to diversify after its orders from automakers dropped during the downturn.
Todd Woody - LATIMES
- November 23, 2009
Market driven forces at work --Ed.
At a recent solar energy conference in Anaheim, economic development officials from Ohio talked up a state that seemed far removed from the solar panels and high-tech devices that dominated the convention floor.
Ohio, long known for its smokestack auto plants and metal-bending factories, would be an ideal place for green technology companies to set up shop, they said.
"People don't traditionally think of Ohio when they think of solar," said Lisa Patt-McDaniel, director of Ohio's economic development agency. But in fact, the Rust Belt goes well with the Green Belt, she said.
In years past, Sunbelt governors recruited Midwestern businesses to set up shop in their states, dangling tax breaks and the lure of a union-free workforce.
Now the tables have turned as solar start-ups, wind turbine companies and electric carmakers from California and the Southwest migrate to the nation's industrial heartland. They're looking to tap its manufacturing might and legions of skilled workers, hit hard by the near-collapse of the United States auto industry and eager for work.
For all of green tech's futuristic sheen, solar power plants and wind farms are made of much of the same stuff as automobiles: machine-stamped steel, glass and gearboxes.
That has renewable energy companies hitting the highway for Detroit and Northeastern industrial states, driven in part by the federal stimulus package's incentives and buy-American mandates.
Irvine's Fisker Automotive, for instance, will manufacture its next plug-in electric hybrid car at a defunct General Motors assembly plant in Wilmington, Del.
And Stirling Energy Systems, which is building two massive solar power plants in Southern California, has signed deals with two automotive companies to make components for its giant solar dishes.
Stirling's 40-by-38-foot SunCatcher resembles a mirrored satellite dish. The SunCatcher's mirrors focus the sun on a Stirling engine that sits on an arm that extends from the center of the dish. The heat causes hydrogen gas in the engine to expand, which drives pistons that generate electricity.... [Read More]