UA part of Sustainable Polymers Tech Hub recognized by President Biden
In line with President Biden's Investing in America initiative, the U.S. Department of Commerce, through the Economic Development Administration (EDA), has designated the Sustainable Polymers Tech Hub in Ohio as one of the inaugural 31 Tech Hubs across the nation poised for exponential growth in key technology sectors. The University of Akron is pleased to be a partner in this Hub.
Led by the Greater Akron Chamber (GAC), the Akron region was not only named a Tech Hub for Sustainable Polymers, but was also the recipient of a Strategy Development Grant – the only awardee of a hub designation or strategy development award in the State of Ohio. This designation is a strong endorsement of the region’s plan to supercharge a critical technology ecosystem and become a global leader over the next decade.
Out of nearly 400 total applicants nationwide, 31 received a Tech Hub Designation, and 29 received a strategy development grant. The Greater Akron Chamber’s (GAC) application was one of only 11 to receive both, which advantageously positions GAC’s Polymer Industry Cluster for a potential Phase 2 grant award of between $40-$75 million.
“Over the last several years, the Polymer Industry Cluster, powered by the Greater Akron Chamber, has been working closely with our polymer companies, industry stakeholders, research institutions and economic development partners to double down on our region’s legacy in polymers to create a new future for advanced polymer materials that are both functional and sustainable,” said Steve Millard, president and CEO of the Greater Akron Chamber. “Greater Akron’s Designation as a Tech Hub and awardee of the Strategic Development Grant will accelerate our efforts to advance our work, invest in our region’s future and build on Ohio’s rich history in the polymer sector. We are excited to be a part of the opportunity of solving tomorrow’s problems from a foundation of scientific and manufacturing leadership that goes back 125 years.”
“This is a community with a rich history of partnership and collaboration for economic development, workforce creation and innovation. Our designation as a Tech Hub and the awarding of a development grant both affirms this great history and ensures our continuation as a national leader in polymer and advanced materials research, education, training and technology innovation. The University of Akron, which is ranked #1 in the world for polymer science and plastics engineering, is excited to continue this work with our partners,” said Dr. Gary Miller, president of The University of Akron.
The EDA designated 31 communities across the country as Regional Innovation and Technology Hubs through the Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration. These Tech Hubs will catalyze investment in technologies critical to economic growth, national security, and job creation, and will help communities across the country become centers of innovation critical to American competitiveness.
The Sustainable Polymers Tech Hub will focus on innovation to address the severe climate and environmental impacts resulting from the use of fossil fuel-derived polymers (rubbers and plastics) through accelerating sustainable polymer manufacturing and commercialization in the United States. Polymers have played an important role in American innovation ranging from the development of medical devices to our nation’s infrastructure; however, their production has resulted in challenges like greenhouse gas emissions and plastic pollution. Our Tech Hub is seeking to leverage its regional assets – such as the largest concentration of plastics and rubber manufacturing plants, machines, and materials in North America – as well as regional partnerships in research and development and an inclusive regional workforce, to establish global leadership in sustainable plastic and rubber technology that has reduced emissions and is recyclable, biodegradable and non-toxic.
As the only awardee in the State of Ohio, the Polymer Industry Cluster and GAC recognizes its success relies on the ongoing engagement of its partners throughout the region and the state to focus federal and state investment to result in innovation, commercialization opportunities, and high-quality jobs for Ohioans. GAC is fortunate to have the ongoing support of its partners on this effort and looks forward to working with polymer industry leaders, elected officials and other economic development stakeholders on helping Ohio secure a Phase 2 investment.
Planning and strategy development will ensue over the next several months and a competitive Phase 2 application process will begin in 2024. Click here for more information on the U.S. EDA’s Tech Hubs program.
From Our Stakeholders
“With our rich manufacturing history, Ohio is a natural fit to host a regional technology hub. As the historic rubber capital of the world, Akron is the ideal location for the future of sustainable polymers, to produce the domestic rubber and plastics of the 21st century. This investment will ensure that Ohio will lead in the technologies of the future, with Akron at the center of sustainable materials innovation,” said U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.
“Ohio’s 13th Congressional District has long been a trailblazer in polymer science and polymer engineering. I’m thrilled to see the Biden-Harris Administration make this historic $400,000 investment in the Sustainable Polymers Tech Hub as their research continues to establish worldwide leadership in this space,” said U.S. Rep. Emilia Sykes (OH-13). “As a member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, I am uniquely familiar with the multi-disciplinary and far-reaching value the efforts of this funding and designation will bring not only to Akron and Northeast Ohio, but to our nation. The Sustainable Polymers Tech Hub, under the leadership of the Greater Akron Chamber, will have a significant impact on our community’s ability to lead in sustainability, manufacturing, and commercialization. This is just another example of the CHIPS and Science Act delivering for Ohio’s 13th Congressional District.”
“For over a century, Akron has been a driving force in transforming some of our nation’s most important industries,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. “Being selected as a ‘Tech Hub’ is a testament to the hard work of the Greater Akron Chamber. This designation is a great example of how Ohio will continue to be at the heart of innovation for years to come.”
“I want to commend the Greater Akron Chamber for putting together a winning proposal,” said Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted. “This is a great opportunity for the team to leverage these federal dollars with state dollars for innovative polymer research and development happening right here in Ohio so that jobs can be created for Ohioans living in the region.”
“I am particularly pleased to see President Biden choose to make such landmark strategic investments in Akron,” said State Senator Vernon Sykes (28th District). “Recognizing our long history with and immense potential for innovation in polymer and material manufacturing, Akron will take its place as the national leader in this industry and tackle great challenges like sustainability, environmental impacts and climate change. I look forward to seeing the innovations that will arise from the Tech Hub designation and working to leverage state resources to further support our region.”
“Akron Ohio has become known as the Polymer Valley of the World. This federal funding will help to sustain us to tell our story and grow our reach,” said State Representative Tavia Galonski (33rd District).
“Akron’s designation as one of the 31 technology hubs is a huge accomplishment for the area. Coupled with Innovation Hub funding in Ohio’s Operating Budget, Akron will become the hub for sustainable polymer strategy development. I am confident that industry-changing advancements will be made to help our state and nation,” said State Representative Bill Roemer (31st District).
“I’m thrilled by today’s announcement and congratulate the Greater Akron Chamber and its partners for the years of work and collaboration that went into making today possible. This further solidifies our position as a global leader in sustainable polymer production and positions us well for significant future CHIPS funding,” said State Representative Casey Weinstein (34th District).
“Collaboration with community partners continues to put Summit County in the best position to succeed. This award will help us showcase what this region and our polymer industry have to offer,” said Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro.
“Akron is at the cutting edge of polymer research and innovation,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “Our city has a long history in the polymer industry and we are proud of this new designation as a regional tech hub. … I look forward to the work ahead here in Akron.”
“Bridgestone is committed to sustainable mobility and its partnership with the Polymer Cluster Initiative. We congratulate the team on achieving the regional technology hub designation. This is an important milestone toward developing novel sustainable polymers,” said Dr. Hans Dorfi, senior VP of product development, Bridgestone Americas.
“Goodyear strongly supports the Polymer Industry Cluster, a collective effort to leverage our region’s unmatched strengths in the polymer industry. This funding will energize our ability to solve industry-wide challenges and drive innovation in priority areas like sustainability, which is a business imperative for our company and many others,” said Richard J. Kramer, Chairman, CEO and president, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
“The Commerce Department’s decision to choose the Rubber Capital of the World as a future tech hub is a testament to Akron’s legacy of excellence in this sector and how Ohio has continued to advance technology in this space,” said JobsOhio President and CEO J.P. Nauseef. “This tech hub will bring new jobs as well as the next generation of polymer technology innovation from talented Ohioans that will improve manufacturing, aviation, health care, national security and more.”
“Northeast Ohio is well-positioned to serve as a Center of Excellence for Ohio, the United States, and the world in implementing sustainable manufacturing capabilities that make our core industries more resilient and our supply chain companies more competitive,” said Bill Koehler, president & CEO of TeamNEO. “We are excited about the work ahead with members of the Sustainable Polymers Tech Hub to make that opportunity come to fruition.”
“The Northeast Ohio Four County Regional Planning and Development Organization (NEFCO) offers its full support as a consortium member for this project,” said Nick Lautzenheiser, program manager for economic development planning at NEFCO, the EDA-designated Economic Development District for Portage, Stark, Summit and Wayne Counties, Ohio. “The Sustainable Polymers Tech Hub furthers four goals of NEFCO’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) by strengthening the regional economy and building resilience, expanding collaborative intergovernmental and public-private partnerships, enhancing workforce development training and positioning the region as a global leader in the sustainable polymer industry.”
- Official Announcement from President Joe Biden
- Roundtable Discussion with Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo
- U.S. Economic Development Administration Press Release
About the Greater Akron Chamber
The Greater Akron Chamber is a business membership and economic development organization serving Summit, Medina, and Portage counties. The Greater Akron Chamber drives economic growth and prosperity for the region by supporting the success of the business community and acting as a convener of stakeholders on key issues facing Greater Akron.
About the Polymer Industry Cluster
The Polymer Industry Cluster Initiative was launched in 2021 to conduct a deeper examination of the region’s polymer industry and develop a framework to leverage its full potential. Powered by the Greater Akron Chamber, the Polymer Industry Cluster works to elevate Northeast Ohio’s polymer industry into a truly dynamic enterprise that is better positioned for strong, sustainable growth in an ever-changing global economy.
Media contact: Cristine Boyd, email@example.com; 330-972-6476