Since it can't send a manned mission to Mars to seek for signs of biological life, NASA will instead send a team to Toledo in quest of economic life.
NASA representatives are set to meet with local economic development agencies in Toledo April 25 to discuss how to commercialize NASA technologies.
Ford Weber, president and chief executive officer of the Lucas County Economic Development Corp., said NASA has a huge inventory of things it has created - tools, technologies, systems, designs, etc. - that might be worth something in the private market.
"A lot of emphasis will be on the solar hub," said Weber. He said there are six to eight local businesses will be coming to the meeting who might have an interest in energy-related technologies developed by NASA.
Weber - the guy who initiated development of the former Libbey-Owens-Ford property in East Toledo that later became a casino - said the half-day meeting will take place at the Toledo Club.
He said it will be introductory. A similar effort has started in Cleveland.
Ultimately, the goal is to license NASA's creations as spinoffs - an iconic example is Tang.
The entities being invited: Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, Chamber of Commerce, Regional Growth Partnership, City of Toledo, Lucas County, and representatives of U.S. Reps. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) and Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) and U.S. Sen.s Rob Portman (R., Ohio) and Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio).
To get back to the casino reference, Weber was a commissioner of public utilities under Mayor Jack Ford when he ran with an idea from Pilkington, successor to the old Libbey-Owens-Ford, to clean up and then market a parcel just south of I-75 along the Maumee River.
Weber obtained $3 million from the state environmental cleanup fund Clean Ohio to remove hazardous contaminants.
Initial plans for an urban-village-type of development were shelved after it was selected as the best available site for a casino.
Without the $3 million cleanup there'd have been no casino.