Center seen as green job incubator
Bucks County Courier Times
February 2, 2010

Bristol, PA - The 21st Century Center for Alternative Energy Research, Advanced Manufacturing and Workforce Development has been established at Bristol Township's Bridge Business Center.

Building a successful green energy company requires developing a sellable idea, executing it and building a work force capable of growing the business.

The Keystone Heritage Group eventually wants Bristol Township's Bridge Business Center to be a place for all three, with the establishment of the 21st Century Center for Alternative Energy Research, Advanced Manufacturing and Workforce Development.

"We want to use the Bridge Business Center as the platform," said Pete Krauss, senior vice president of the Keystone Heritage Group.

The group is guiding redevelopment of the business, formerly part of Rohm & Haas' local operation, along with Doylestown's Keystone Redevelopment Group LLC, which owns the 35-acre site. Keystone is rehabbing several buildings, with space totaling 300,000 square feet. It also expects to build another 60,000 square feet of space on the site.

Krauss envisions the center becoming an incubator for green energy start-up companies.

It would be a place where entrepreneurs can research alternative energy technologies, set up their companies and take part in - or hire employees from - on-site work force training or academic programs. The programs would be designed to prepare students for careers in wind, solar, geothermal and other alternative forms of energy.

"The future belongs to those who can incorporate these various resources and we want to take advantage of the science, the work force and the vision to create this platform," Krauss said.

The framework for the center's educational component - the Green Jobs Academy - is already in place. The academy received $800,000 in federal funds in the fall to help launch it. Local companies and educational institutions would team up to provide the training.

"If alternative energy companies want to locate there, that's exciting, but that's not the game plan," Krauss said. "The game plan is to grow it organically."

Krauss participated in an alternative energy panel discussion Wednesday at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce's Bucks County Breakfast meeting at Bensalem's Pen Ryn mansion. He was joined by Bucks County Community College President James J. Linksz and Bucks County Commissioner Charles H. Martin.

"We'd like to create a talent pool for the local community," said Linksz. "This would create a single location where all of these things are happening together."

Development of the 21st Century Center would continue what Select Greater Philadelphia President Thomas G. Morr referred to as the region's gradual transformation from a manufacturing economy to a service and education economy with an alternative energy focus.

"Pennsylvania is third in the nation in the number of clean energy jobs and there's already a nucleus of jobs in this growing field here," Morr said.

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