The state of Ohio has appointed thirteen members, representing a wide range of expertise in the fields of chemicals, polymers and advanced materials, to serve on the Ohio Agriculture to Chemicals, Polymers, and Advanced Materials Task Force. The creation of the task force is aimed at accelerating the state business climate by maximizing ties between its No. 1 industry, agriculture, and its role as the nation's No. 1 polymer industry.
According to the Ohio Business Development Coalition (www.ohiomeansbusiness.com), the nonprofit organization that markets the state for capital investment, an official Ohio task force is the most effective way to build on the state's existing strengths in several key industries, identify opportunities for cross-collaboration among those industries and drive innovation.
"Ohio has a unique opportunity to become a world leader in the conversion of agricultural commodities into the bio-based products of the future," Doug O'Brien, assistant director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the newly-appointed chairman of the Ohio Agriculture to Chemicals, Polymers, and Advanced Materials Task Force said. "The state has an abundance of raw materials along with the research and development capacity and corporate infrastructure that make Ohio a natural leader in this emerging industry."
Additional appointed members include, Sen. Capri Cafaro, vice chair of the task force; Rep. Steve Reinhard, who sponsored H.B. 233; Rocky Black, with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; Stephen Myers with the Ohio BioProducts Innovation Center; Mark Shanahan, the Governor's Energy Advisor; Jack Pounds, with the Ohio Chemistry Technology Council; Wayne Earley, executive director of PolymerOhio; Elizabeth Colbert, with the Ohio Department of Development; Rep. Cliff Hite; Rep. Matthew Barrett; Sen. Larry Mumper; and Sen. Mark Wagoner.
The task force was created through H.B. 233, signed by Gov. Ted Strickland in November of 2007.
Its mission is to evaluate the current status of Ohio's agriculture and advanced materials industries and expand opportunities by increasing alignment between the two industries.
Ohio has historical strengths in transforming its agriculture products such as corn into state-of-the-art resins and plastics often used in medical and manufacturing applications.
"The Task Force can only strengthen existing synergies in polymer industry uses of agricultural products, and will help define a path to streamline future collaboration converting crops from Ohio fields into brand-new commodities produced in Ohio factories," Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, who also serves as the director of the Ohio Department of Development said.
Innovation in the polymer industry is driven by the state's Third Frontier program, a $1.6 billion initiative to help catalyze connections between companies and academia to support the development process. This sharing of knowledge often results in unexpected solutions with commercial application.
"Business leaders are realizing how, in Ohio, they're able to find a perfect balance between successfully growing a business and still enjoying life," Ed Burghard, executive director of the Ohio Business Development Coalition (OBDC) said. "Business owners profit from the bottom-line benefits of better work:life balance for their employees. Ohio offers low-cost, low stress communities in a combination of micropolitan and metropolitan cities. This diversity provides executives and employees the resources and time to make any ambition achievable. Ohio truly is the state of perfect balance."
The polymer industry in Ohio includes more than 2,800 facilities and 140,000 workers. It generates $49 billion in annual sales revenue and pays its workers $5.6 billion in wages. More than 200 Ohio companies produce equipment for the polymer industry.