Strickland visits Portage County recycling facility

Anthony Holloway

Strickland visits Portage County recycling facility

Recycling proposal ran by Gov. Ted Strickland

Portage County leaders and their associates presented Gov. Ted Strickland with a project proposal Friday afternoon during a visit to the Portage County Solid Waste Management facility in Brimfield.

Strickland said he came to the facility to “learn and listen.”

The visit started with a tour of the plant. Strickland viewed what William Steiner II, director of the Portage County Solid Waste Management facility, said is the biggest waste management plant in Ohio.

Steiner said he wanted to be able to show Strickland what they were doing at the facility and that despite the economy, the facility is running efficiently after recycling numbers increased by 100 tons this past year. In 2007, the plant shipped out more than 22 million pounds of recycled products, including glass, plastic and aluminum cans.

Following the tour, Strickland made his way to hear a presentation from Vadxx Energy CEO Jim Garrett. Garrett, who has experience in energy business with Marathon Oil Corporation and others, told Strickland and the crowd of Portage County leaders about his intention of turning formally unrecyclable materials into crude oil.

“This is not a research project,” he said. “We have letters of intent in hand for four commercial units.”

Garrett said besides Portage County Solid Waste Management facility, the others are from places in Summit and Cuyahoga counties.

Steiner said the relationship between the Portage County plant and Vadxx Energy is still premature and has yet to be approved.

Garrett touched on the advantages of Vadxx Energy on how it would affect the United States’ dependence on foreign oil, but he also emphasized one advantage important to Ohio by dedicating one PowerPoint slide to the issue, reading, “good jobs, good jobs, good jobs.”

“One unit employs about 20 people,” he said. $55,000 a year, compensation and benefits, good jobs. Technician jobs, electrician jobs.

There’s one plant, one of our partners, that has a plant that could take 20 to 30 units. He has already a letter of intent with us. He is out of Cleveland, but he runs a multi-state organization.”

Vadxx Energy CTO William Ullom said the output per unit is eight gallons of oil per minute and 90,000 barrels of oil per year.

Portage County leaders aren’t the only ones interested in the possibilities, though.

“These units will be manufactured in Akron, Ohio,” he said. “The Republic of China heard about this and offered us a grant to move our manufacturing facilities to China. Well, we said ‘no, thank you,’ with words to that effect.

That’s what we’re focused on, translating this technology into good jobs for Ohioans, and we think we have a good shot at that. “

Strickland said despite the many appealing advantages, there is still an added benefit.

“If you weren’t concerned about jobs being created, the energy being created or the influence of imported oil, you take all those off the table,” he said. “It’s still a good thing to do because of the environmental aspect. I don’t see any downside.“

Garrett said the current hurdle is getting capital. The costs estimated for the machines total $2 million. Ullom said since one of Vadxx Energy’s units produces 90,000 barrels of oil a year, and with the cost of a barrel of oil up to around $75, there would be a positive cash flow once oil production begins.

Garrett said this cash flow allows for future assistance to be needed.

“There is a lot of advanced energy out there that need continuous government support. This is not one of them. If we knock the first couple of dominos over, the market forces will really take off.”

Strickland was expected to talk about the different grant programs Ohio is looking to offer businesses, but the length of the Vadxx presentation overtook his time. He was able to comment on what he had going on with those programs.

“It’s a proven job-creating program,” he said of the Ohio Third Frontier program in an interview after the tour. “We’re hoping to renew it on the spring ballot.”

Strickland said the program, which is targeted to nurture early-stage companies and foster technology development that makes existing industries more productive, is looking to be renewed for $700 million that will be utilized over the next four years.

Strickland sat in on the presentation with others from the county such as County Commissioners President Chuck Keiper; Dan Banks, Board of Commissioners grant administrator, and members of the Brimfield Township council.

Contact reporter Anthony Holloway at [email protected].