SHEFFIELD – Gov. Ted Strickland was visibly impressed Friday as he toured ADI Wind and saw the company’s prototype gearbox for wind turbines – a patent-pending invention that could make manufacturing turbines cheaper at the same time output is increased.
“This company is doing very significant things,” Strickland said. “It’s a home-grown company, and they are doing things that potentially will have an effect on the world.”
Strickland, accompanied by several state and local leaders, listened to and questioned ADI Wind President Mike Winiasz about the gearbox, which is made out of recycled titanium and steel, and its other possible applications.
Joking about Ohio’s “Rust Belt” nickname being changed to “Titanium Belt,” Strickland said during his brief visit that funding for small businesses with new ideas is critical. He also touted Third Frontier, a state fund that sells bonds and then uses the money to invest in growing businesses and industries.
Voters will decide May 4 whether to renew Third Frontier, which was created in 2005. If it’s renewed, $700 million will be injected into businesses and industries like green industry, Strickland said.
“This is the single most effective economic incentive program around,” he said. “It’s a proven job-creating program. It’s already created 48,000 high-paying jobs … $700 million will be used for the next four years for companies like this one. I urge all Ohioans to give it a yes vote.”
Strickland said the state’s Department of Development can help, and there are special loan programs and tax incentives available for companies trying to get started or to develop new ideas.
ADI was formed in 1959 with ADI Wind a more recent off-shoot. The company’s roots are in engineering, design and manufacturing of machinery for many industries, Winiasz said.
As some of those industries disappeared, ADI adapted, Winiasz said.
An old component for the weaving industry triggered a light-bulb moment for Winiasz, who saw applications for a gear box that spun faster without wearing out or rusting – perfect for wind turbines. In addition, the gearbox and its generator would be much smaller, lighter and able to fit in the nose cone of a wind turbine.
Winiasz said the company never could have gotten to the prototype phase it’s at right now without help from the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise and the county’s Solid Waste Department’s Revolving Loan Fund. GLIDE gave funds to the Lorain County Community College’s Innovation Fund – a source of funding for companies developing new technologies.
ADI Wind received $25,000 from the Innovation Fund in March 2009, to develop its prototype gearbox. ADI also received a $130,000 loan from the Revolving Loan Fund in August to further fund its efforts.
Strickland told Winiasz about a company from Germany coming to visit Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri and Kentucky to look at possibly investing in manufacturers, and the governor suggested ADI Wind be added to the sites the German company would visit.
State Sen. Sue Morano, D-Lorain, said four out of the six parts needed to build wind turbines already are being made in Lorain County.
Businesses already involved in alternative energy in Lorain County include GreenField Solar in Oberlin, which makes solar cells; Kadon Corp. in Avon, which makes bearings for wind turbines; Republic Technologies International in Lorain, which manufactures titanium and steel; and Kalt Manufacturing Co. in North Ridgeville, which manufactures gearbox components.
Lorain County Community College also has created a new wind turbine major as part of its Alternative Energy Technology course of study.
State Rep. Matt Lundy, D-Elyria, noted that Ohio is No. 1 in the country for creating green industry jobs.
“These are the sustainable jobs for the future,” Lundy said. “They are not short-term jobs. This is not just the direction the county and the state are going, but it’s the direction the whole world is going. These are the jobs that are growing.”
Employee Jay Yakovich, a laborer at ADI for five years, said he was glad Strickland was now aware of what ADI Wind is doing.
“It’s nice to have him here and see how manufacturing is going on,” Houseman said. “I’m glad he got to see everything we’re doing to make parts for new energy sources.”
Sheffield Mayor John Hunter said his village, too, is looking into installing wind turbines as a way to save on energy costs. Hunter also agreed with Kalo that this new industry will put people back to work.
“We’re working with the county and the state to try to provide funding and connections to … hopefully bring green manufacturing jobs here to the village,” Hunter said. “I think Lorain County could be the hub for green energy for the state, the country and the world. We’ve got the technology here, the patents, the testing and design and hopefully we’ll have the manufacturing, too.”