Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
By Shelley Grieshop
Crown to get nearly $1 million from state
  Crown Equipment Corp. based in New Bremen was awarded nearly $1 million from the state Tuesday for a project to utilize fuel cells to power qualified models of lift trucks.
The $977,270 grant was one of 12 awarded to businesses across the state for the advancement of fuel cell technology in Ohio. In all, more than $8.9 million in grant funding was distributed through the Ohio Third Frontier Fuel Cell Program. More than 2,000 jobs are expected to be created.
"We are very pleased," Randy Niekamp, human resource director at Crown, said this morning. "This is very important to us for our long-term future."
Crown forklifts operate on batteries, and the grant will help the company identify and pursue the modification of certain models for commercially-available battery replacement fuel cell power packs, Niekamp said.
He could not immediately comment on the creation of jobs as a result of the grant.
Pollution reduction is the state's primary reason for promoting fuel cells. A fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device, similar to a battery, which provides continuous direct current (DC) power. Its only by-product is clean water. Chemicals constantly flow into a fuel cell as electricity exits so it never dies, unlike a battery that eventually goes dead and must be disposed.
Ohio's Third Frontier Fuel Cell Program was created in 2002 with $103 million in funds to provide grants that involve Ohio higher education institutions, nonprofit research organizations and Ohio businesses. Projects funded must focus on research and development.
To date, more than $70 million in fuel cell grants have been awarded to entities in Ohio. American Trim of Lima, which operates a plant in Sidney, also was one of the 12 businesses tapped by the state Tuesday and will receive $1 million.
"The investments made today will provide additional opportunities for the development and deployment of fuel cell technologies and will continue to spur economic growth in this important industry," said Ohio Lt. Governor Lee Fisher in a press release.
Crown was founded in the 1940s and began manufacturing electric lift trucks in the mid-1950s. The company currently is the No. 1 brand of electric lift trucks in the U.S. and the fifth largest lift truck manufacturer in the world.
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