CLEVELAND — Donald P. Knechtges is retiring as chief development officer of polymer giant PolyOne Corp. But instead of playing golf or hitting the beach in some warm climate, he's staying in Lorain County, near Cleveland, to lead a technology incubator.
Knechtges, 59, was hired in April as managing director of the new Great Lakes Incubator for Digital Enterprises, or GLIDE, at Lorain County Community College. He will take the new job after he retires from Cleveland-based PolyOne in May.
LCCC President Roy Church said Knechtges' corporate ties, Lorain County roots and technical savvy made him an ideal choice to guide GLIDE in the incubator's infancy. GLIDE is scheduled to open this summer.
"Don is a real veteran in the corporate community," Church said. "He is a long-standing resident of Grafton and Lorain County and has been a major champion of developing Lorain County for many years."
Knechtges said he accepted the position because it presents an opportunity to move Lorain County and its work force into the 21st century with a more technology-driven economy. For decades, Lorain County's work force has depended on manufacturing jobs. Now, with those jobs becoming harder to find, it is critical to help create and encourage the growth of tech firms in the county, he said.
"I believe with the tremendous manufacturing base of Lorain County, if we can successfully marry those skills and talent with the digital economy, we'll have a real formula for success," Knechtges said.
Terms of Knechtges' employment at GLIDE have not been completed.
Knechtges, a 36-year business veteran with degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering, started his career in research and development at BFGoodrich Co. and continued with its vinyl compounds division that was spun off in 1993 as Geon Co. in Avon Lake, Ohio. Knechtges led the integration of Geon and M.A. Hanna Co., when the companies merged last September to form PolyOne.
LCCC recently received a commitment of $1.9 million for five years from Lorain County to operate and staff GLIDE. The incubator will be home to as many as five start-up software, Web-development or electronic-commerce companies in about 2,000 square feet within the 30,000-square-foot Engineering and Development Center at LCCC.