Thursday, July 13, 2006

There's gotta be a way

How can we get in on the bidding process? 

Alternative fuel business may be area’s future

Monroe Energy LLC of Greenford is looking at four Mahoning Valley sites for an ethanol/bio-diesel plant that could start turning corn and soy into fuel within two to three years. One site is in Lordstown. This one plant, though itself will only employ about 40 to 100 workers, has the potential to spawn 2,000 support jobs. And there is demand for many, many more such plants.

Hopefully, Lordstown’s recent income tax increase will not scare away the Monroe plant. Lordstown already failed to capitalize on The Andersons Inc., which owns a fertilizer distribution business on Muth Road. The company is building its second ethanol plant near its hometown in northwest Ohio. Ethanol helped drive The Andersons Inc. stock from $8 a share in 2001 to $91 a share in March.

It is imperative that Ohio, and Trumbull County in particular, prevent Wisconsin, western states and others from taking the lead. Mahoning Valley leaders should consider an alternative fuels summit to capitalize on the state’s close gubernatorial race to solicit support from Columbus. And Ohio leaders should capitalize on this being a battleground state in the next presidential election to solicit federal help.

This window of opportunity will be small. We can wallow in sorrow over Delphi and GM. Or we can rise to the challenge, battle for the next economic trove, and resume our position as a world leader.

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