Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tech across Ohio - Rolls-Royce boosting Ohio presence

Rolls-Royce boosting Ohio presence
Business First of Columbus - by Matt Burns

Correction at bottom of article

Rolls-Royce Plc has committed to expand fuel cell research and development at its North Canton operations, a move the state says will triple the company's work force at the northeast Ohio site.

Gov. Ted Strickland said in a release Monday that the company's Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems subsidiary plans to invest $3 million in equipment at its North American headquarters, which has been housed at Stark State College’s Fuel Cell Prototyping Center since 2006. Robert Grevey, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Development, said the expansion is aimed at testing fuel cells to eliminate technical risks along the road to the commercial market. Equipment installation is set to begin before the end of the year.

Stark State created that center with the help of Ohio’s Third Frontier initiative in 2003. The Development Department said the Third Frontier program has invested more than $11 million at Stark State since then.

The investment from Rolls-Royce, which employs about 5,700 in the U.S., is expected to lead to the creation of 60 full-time jobs with average wages of about $30 an hour, excluding benefits, by the end of 2012. The company has a payroll of 32 employees at the site. Some of those jobs are coming from the United Kingdom and Singapore, Grevey said.

Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell CEO Mark Fleiner said in a release that the company’s plans come amid a competitive world market for attracting and retaining high-tech industry jobs.

“The commitment of Ohio to support the development of a fuel cell industry, the strong partnership with Stark State College and the close proximity with development partners were key factors in our decision to grow operations in North Canton,” Fleiner said.

This story has been corrected to note Rolls-Royce Plc no longer makes luxury automobiles. It sold that business to BMW.


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