“This funding’s been about a year in the making,” said BRITE’s Sara Daugherty. “This really was built around the ‘Voltage Valley’ initiative.”
WARREN — A $571,355 federal grant for BRITE Energy Innovators, announced Thursday, is a “big step” for the local energy technology incubator, executives said.
The U.S. Economic Development Administration CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant is expected to help BRITE’s clients create 200 jobs, retain another 150 jobs and generate $100 million in private investment, according to a Thursday news release from U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th.
“It’s organizations like BRITE that are leading the effort to foster startups driving innovation in energy tech and [Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network] which assists and promotes northeast Ohio’s manufacturing growth that help fuel Voltage Valley and advanced manufacturing for lasting economic impact,” said Ryan, calling the job creations a “return on investment” into the “economies of the future.”
Each award is expected to be matched by about $150,000 in local funding, according to the release.
BRITE’s half-million-dollar award is bigger than its entire operating budget in 2017, the year CEO Rick Stockburger joined, said Sara Daugherty, BRITE’s director of partnerships. It’s a nearly 50 percent boost from this year’s budget as well, she said.
“It’s a very big step for us,” she said.
The funding will support BRITE’s clients who are developing energy storage technology, but will also help BRITE onboard more employees. BRITE had four times the demand for its services by the end of 2020 than it did before last spring, Daugherty said.
BRITE is a “lean and mobile” outfit with fewer than 10 full-time and part-time employees and a handful of contractors and it’s been “inundated” with new demand, she said.
“This funding’s been about a year in the making,” Daugherty said. “This really was built around the ‘Voltage Valley’ initiative — and not just Ohio-based startups, but startups based nationally … wanting to be a part of BRITE’s ecosystem, particularly for energy storage, battery fuel cells and other types of energy storage technologies.”
The funding will also go toward enhancements inside BRITE’s laboratory with equipment to help clients developing e-mobility technology. Right now, they’ve been put on a waiting list, she said.
BRITE will also be able to finish a solar array atop its West Market Street building, allowing it to start generating its own electricity.
“That will allow for new types of testing relating to [power] grid and renewable energy integration, as well as a wide variety of things,” Daughterty said.
BRITE expects to host a local media briefing later this month, to announce more new developments, Daugherty said.
Cleveland’s Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET), another EDA recipient, is also set to receive $624,316 to provide small- to medium-sized manufacturers technical assistance in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. The project is expected to create 100 new jobs, retain another 500 jobs and generate $10 million in private investment, according to Ryan’s office.
Subrecipients of that grant award include: the Youngstown Business Incubator; Team NEO, a Cleveland-based economic development agency; and JumpStart Inc., a Cleveland-based business development service, according to Ryan’s office.
The EDA investments are funded by $1.5 billion in economic assistance programs provided by the federal CARES Act.
“The Economic Development Administration is committed to helping communities across the nation implement strategies to mitigate economic hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Dennis Alvord, acting assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “These EDA investments will create jobs by providing resources for the manufacturing sector in the Cleveland area and expanding support for entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio.”