Democrats visit Kent Displays to promote Third Frontier initiative

Ryan Young

Congressman Tim Ryan and U.S. House hopeful Kathleen Clyde toured Kent Displays Wednesday to discuss how state support has propelled the research business.

“It’s a new infrastructure,” Ryan said, explaining that the government’s role today is to invest in information for local economic development.

State support has been a catalyst for success in the Kent company, which specializes in producing liquid crystal displays for a myriad of products like laptops and the company‘s green alternative to the sticky note, the Boogie Board.

Also in attendance were County Commissioner Vicki Kline and Sen. Tom Sawyer, who were both there to support what they believe is a shift in state investment.

“We’ve doubled our revenues, we’ve doubled our employee count, all within the last 18 months,” said Albert Green, CEO of Kent Displays. This has occurred during what he calls “one of the most challenging economies in US history.”

“Now, we’re talking about a product made here in Kent, in Portage County, in Ohio, and we go sell it in China,” Green said.

The company also produces flexible, plastic-bound LCDs, much like ones that could be embedded in credit cards as early as next year.

Financial support for these products has come from the $700 million Ohio Third Frontier development initiative, an investment aimed at local business in an attempt to support growing industries with the potential to be competitive globally.

“Gov. Strickland has made Ohio a model for developing these kind of companies, not just in Kent, but all over the state,” Ryan said. “What his opponent is saying is completely get rid of the department of development and give it to 12 CEOs to be able to dole out the money.”

In Kasich’s model, Congressman Ryan believes it would be difficult for a company like Kent Displays to compete in a competitive bidding process to access capital and have a chance at development and success.

“It’s about saying, not whether government is too big or too small, but does government actually work,” Ryan said.

Joseph Osborn, Kent Displays maintenance staffer and Ravenna resident, said the plans have potential.

“I think it will be great if they actually give what they are promising,” Osborn said. “Investment in technology means keeping jobs here.”

You can contact Ryan Young at [email protected].