Promised with the creation of 360 jobs, UltraCell Corp is shutting down their 14 jobs after wasting the money you were forced to invest in their business. This is what Gov. Strickland, Brian Hicks and Jo Ann Davidson worked so hard for.
UltraCell Corp.’s decision to close its Dayton fuel cell manufacturing operations in favor of consolidating in California is a disappointment but won’t stop the region’s technology development, local industry watchers said Monday, Aug. 16.
UltraCell surprised state development officials last week when it informed them of plans to shut down production in Dayton, effective Friday, Aug. 13. The California-based company fell far short of its promised employment in Dayton this year and may have to repay the state and city hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic assistance.
UltraCell’s retrenchment illustrates the risk that high-tech companies face in trying to gear up production for developing markets, officials at the Dayton Development Coalition and the Ohio Department of Development said.
“A lot of that risk has to do with the timing of market acceptance,” said Jim Leftwich, the coalition’s president and chief executive officer. “That’s a risk that every high-tech company has to deal with.” The Dayton region will push ahead with its long-term goals of developing advanced materials, aerospace research and other high-tech industries, Leftwich said.
Keith Scott, UltraCell’s chief executive, informed the state Development Department on Tuesday, Aug. 10, of the decision to consolidate operations in California. Scott didn’t return telephone calls Monday from the Dayton Daily News.
UltraCell was recruited to Dayton with much fanfare in 2006. It began operations in 2007 at a leased plant at Dayton International Airport.
Ohio is assessing how much of at least $2 million in technology-supporting Third Frontier grant money UltraCell may be asked to repay now that it has shut down in Ohio, said John Griffin, a state development official. The company also received workforce development funding.
Dayton gave UltraCell a $200,000 grant in 2007. The city will pursue the return of that money, said Shelley Dickstein, assistant city manager for strategic development.
Some of Ohio’s money supported UltraCell’s local R&D partners, the University of Dayton Research Institute and Miamisburg-based Mound Technical Solutions Inc., and the state won’t disturb that funding, Griffin said.
State Representative Ross McGregor is furious, and fired off this letter to the Dayton Daily News:
I would like to express my disappointment in UltraCell Corp. for its broken promises to the Miami Valley region. The August 16th article, “UltraCell has closed its Dayton fuel plant, state officials say (Dayton Daily News, pg. A1),” cited that the city of Dayton gave UltraCell a $200,000 grant with the understanding that the corporation would create jobs and invest capital in the region. UltraCell promised 360 jobs to the area, though the plant employed only 14 workers when it closed on August 13th. Had UltraCell lived up to its agreement, the Dayton Region would have seen major advancement in its technological development. Instead, our communities have been denied jobs that Dayton paid UltraCell to provide.
In this faltering economy, the Miami Valley region cannot afford for its industries to default on their economic obligations. To develop a competitive high-tech industry, we need companies and corporations that make good on their promises, invest money in the local economy and enrich the job market. I support the efforts to hold the corporation accountable for the grant money it accepted. UltraCell should exhibit good corporate citizenship by returning the taxpayer money that it had received so that those resources can be used towards businesses that are willing to invest in our region’s economy. Still, I have confidence that the Miami Valley will continue with its technological development. We are on track to becoming a region known for a high-tech boom. Though this plant closing was clearly a blow, there is still hope for a stronger job market and a healthier economy in the greater Miami Valley.
This is what happens when money is taken out of the private economy to be redistributed in less efficient, political ways… Are advancements in battery technology a way for entrepreneurs to build wealth and create jobs? Perhaps, but private venture capitalists, who put their own money on the line, wouldn’t have given UltraCell such a enormous pile of money when they clearly had no intention of fulfilling their obligations.