Every state has an economic development office. Each typically offers site-selection incentives as well, ranging from tax breaks and job training to reduced energy rates. Most also are interested in plastics, which is why you'll find many development officials at this year's NPE. The plastics industry has come to be recognized as an ideal economic development recruit, and a number of states (and nations) are represented, sharing booths with regional and municipal development agencies or utility companies, trolling for prospects and promoting locales as diverse as Alabama and China.
In the United States, many development officials have targeted plastics as a replacement industry for jobs lost as a result of corporate downsizing and the transfer of production by American companies offshore. Some of the latter is occurring with plastics, also, but the industry's domestic growth has been good. Much of it is driven by the auto and telecommunication industries, but it also is supported by the improving affluence of nations in the developing world, where the market for plastic products is expanding.
Not surprisingly, several states have formed industry/education partnerships, such as Michigan with Ferris State University in Big Rapids and Eastern Michigan University at Ypsilanti. Ohio boasts the Greater Akron International Polymer Center, which involves the resources and expertise of schools such as the University of Akron and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
The link between industry and the academic centers is crucial to plastics, which depends on advanced technology for the production of new products and to address environmental concerns.
The latter continues to be a major issue affecting the industry. As the plastics sector grows, in some quarters so does its undeserved reputation as a defacer of the environment. The information and education campaigns funded by the American Plastics Council and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. have helped to combat that perception, as have plastics recycling programs, many of which can trace their roots to a state university research project. States are able to leverage that kind of research in recruiting plastics companies that are always in search of good ideas.