Tim Ryan tours Kent displays

Yesterday, congressman Tim Ryan (D) and U.S. House hopeful Kathleen Clyde (D) toured Kent Displays and gave speeches about jobs in Ohio. Also in attendance were County Commissioner Vicki Kline, and Senator Tom Sawyer, to support what they believe is a paradigm shift in state investment.

“It’s a new infrastructure,” said Ryan, explaining that the government’s role today is investment in information for local economic development. For Kent Displays, this democratic, financial ethos couldn‘t have come at a better time.

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

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

“Now, we’re talking about a product made here in Kent, in Portage County, in Ohio, and we go sell it in China,” said Dr. Green. The US market has since commanded more volume than China, but also on board is Japan. “It really fit’s the Japaneese model of kind of cool, fun, gadgets and it’s relatively inexpensive,” said Dr. Green.

The company also produces flexible, plastic-bound LCD displays; like the ones that could be found as early as next year imbedded in credit cards. With the “e-card,” companies can assign “dynamic information in a credit card format, that translates into a more secure credit card and more secure transactions,” said Dr. Green.

The financial support for these products, and others like them, has come from the $700 million Ohio Third Frontier development initiative, an investment aimed at local business in an attempt to, “…support existing industries that are transforming themselves with new globally competitive product.”

“This company, I think, really can be the poster child for public – private partnerships that we have, and the level of sophistication of our economic development in the state of Ohio,” said Tim Ryan of Kent Displays.

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

In Kasich’s model, congressman Ryan believes that 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,” said Ryan.

“I think it will be great if they actually give what they are promising,” said Kent Displays maintenance staffer Joseph Osborne, 45, of Ravenna. “Investment in technology means keeping jobs here,” said Osborne.

“These have been tough times for Ohio…but, because of all Governor Strickland’s hard work, we are ahead of most of the nation in finally seeing recovery,” said Kathleen Clyde, who is hoping to ride democratic support to election on November 2. “What Ohio needs is Ted Strickland’s steady, strong leadership to get us out of this recession, not John Kasich’s wall street gimmicks.”

Governor Strickland could not be in attendance due to “unexpected crisis.”