The U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) has designated nine energy intensive business sectors as "Industries of the Future" or IoF. These IoF have energy as a major component of their manufacturing costs and are eligible for DOE technology development funding. The IoF are key industries needed for national defense and for insuring economic stability. This year the DOE has approximately $140 million allocated for IoF technology development programs.
Ohio enjoys representation in each of the IoF which are Agriculture, Aluminum, Chemicals, Glass, Metal Casting, Forest Products, Mining, Oil Refining and Steel. These industries are very important to Ohio. Ohio's IoF provide jobs at every level of the employment strata from non-skilled through college and doctorate degreed. A significant number of Ohioans rely upon incomes derived from these industries directly or via a “multiplier effect”.
Today, these major Ohio industries face increased offshore competition that threatens their economic health and the livelihood for many of Ohio's citizens. This can readily be seen in the recent news articles regarding the effects of “dumping” upon Ohio's steel industry. The negative impact caused by imports relying on low wages has, however, been successfully combated in many cases by employing high technologies that increase productivity and lower manufacturing costs. The DOE IoF program provides funding for these types of technology development activities.
Ohio's IoF, unfortunately, have not been well represented in many of these DOE funded opportunities. Instead, Ohioans relied upon marginal improvements offered by technology development programs in other states, who, when addressing their own particular needs, have developed technologies that have applicability to Ohio firms. Other programs addressed only the “user” side of the equation and did not work to develop technologies which would insure adequate, reliable, cost competitive energy production.
EIO recognized that Ohio was uniquely qualified for attracting and obtaining funding in its' own right for projects aimed at insuring the vitality of these industries which included the power generation aspect as well. Ohio enjoys an exceptional system of public and private Colleges and Universities. Ohio also has a network of programs that foster technology development through your Department of Development such as the Edison Programs, Ohio Coal Development Office and Office of Energy Efficiency. Within Ohio's boundaries are three major federal research laboratories, NASA-Glenn Research Center, Wright Patterson AFB, and the Department of Energy's Mound Facility, that likewise are available to support R&D programs through a number of federal programs such as the SBIR, STTR, etc.
Using this premise, an industry led consortium was able to secure funding from the Ohio Department of Development to establish a non-profit corporation aimed at assisting Ohio's Energy Intensive User and Power Generation industries. The seed funding was used to formalize a new organization called “The Energy Industries of Ohio” (EIO) in June of 2000.