Team Lorain County, City of Oberlin, City of North Ridgeville, Lorain County Growth Partnership
PROJECT: Attraction of GreenField Solar Corp. Headquarters
In 2007, GreenField Solar Corp. housed its big idea to change the solar energy industry in a small leased office space in Lorain County.
The startup, which makes solar panels using a patented technology called PhotoVolt for which tiny cells collect sunlight to generate power at a lower cost to consumers, received a capital investment and was considering places to locate a headquarters permanently and expand.
After considering Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, and Texas — all places with large semi-conductor markets vital to the solar energy industry — GreenField selected Oberlin for its expansion. Additional offices are in North Ridgeville.
Team Lorain County and other economic development organizations helped GreenField navigate job-creation tax credits and find other incentives. The group also linked GreenField to lab space that otherwise wouldn’t have been readily available.
Steve Morey, president and CEO of Team Lorain County, recognized the value of attracting a growing advanced energy company like GreenField. “It builds on the base of manufacturing that we’re already known for and places it squarely into the new century,” he says.
The company’s CEO, Neil Sater, grew up in Berea watching his father, Bernard, a former NASA scientist at the John H. Glenn Research Center, work on perfecting PhotoVolt.
“My father is defined by solar energy,” Sater says. Since he started working on the technology in the 1970s, Bernard was provided office and lab space for research and development within NASA’s property even after he took an early retirement in 1994 to focus on solar energy.
“One big asset we had here was this relationship with NASA,” Sater says of the decision to stay in Ohio.
A few years ago, Sater decided to leave his day job at IBM to commercialize his father’s invention and build GreenField.
He and his father built an initial team of 10 people with their initial capital infusion to work on the solar energy technology. Today they employ 25. In July 2009, they said they would create 200 jobs in Ohio by 2012.
GreenField is in the early stages of a project with Cleveland Public Power at the Rockefeller Greenhouse. It will be installing 20 systems to produce solar and thermal electricity to heat the greenhouse.
GreenField’s Oberlin headquarters, which opened in March of this year, houses business offices and a laboratory where ideas will be developed. The North Ridgeville location will be for heavy lifting and building concentrating units, says Jim Latham, GreenField’s director of operations.
“From a manufacturing standpoint, Northeast Ohio has a lot of resources for a business like ours,” Latham says.
Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, City of Youngstown
PROJECT: Attraction of VXI Global Solutions
City of Cleveland
PROJECT: Attraction of Steel Warehouse LLC