Local delegation trying to connect with OEMs at German wind conference

Thursday, September 23, 2010, 5:43pm CDT

A Kansas delegation that’s courting manufacturers at the Husum WindEnergy 2010 trade show in Germany is working to set up a meeting in Wichita with a consultant representing 250 European OEMs in the wind energy sector.

NAI John T. Arnold Associates Inc.’s Marlin Penner, who is traveling with the Kansas group, says the private meeting could be held later this year in Wichita. The idea would be to draft a “virtual plan” for a wind energy cluster in southcentral Kansas.

Penner says the Kansas delegation, which includes Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and local and state economic development officials, met with the consulting firm on Thursday at the Husum trade show.

“He gave us a challenge: ‘If you can put together a case for a fertile area for a wind energy cluster, I will put together a group and meet with you,’” Penner says.

Penner declined to identify the consulting firm, only saying it was based in Europe. He says the meeting would be a two-day planning session in Wichita.

Having a virtual plan, Penner says, would allow the consulting firm to return to its clients with more information about Wichita when those companies are seeking to open new facilities here.

Penner argues that the city and region already have a strong backbone for wind energy manufacturing, based on its skilled workforce, transportation logistics and existing major players with Siemens in Hutchinson and Tindall Corp. in Newton.

“The fact was not lost on anybody that Siemens has moved into our community,” Penner says.

Penner is providing the WBJ regular updates from the Husum WindEnergy trade show.

Thursday was the third day of the conference, which effectively wraps up on Friday. Already, the Kansas delegation has met with dozens of wind energy companies and organizations, many of them based in Germany.

But Penner says on Thursday, Salina’s Maico Industries Inc. met with a Polish manufacturer of residential wind turbines to discuss building structural poles for the company in the United States. Maico already has been talking about doing similar work for larger turbine manufacturers.

Penner says on Friday the Kansas delegation will meet with the manufacturer of composite blades for wind turbines.

He did say some members of the local group, including Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, were able to break away from the conference for a short time to sight-see in downtown Husum, Germany. Penner says he was much too busy for that.

“I didn’t go with them. I was working,” he says