Exclusive: Hydrogen fuel tech firm GenH2 to create jobs at new Space Coast manufacturing site
This is a repost from Orlando Business Journal.
By Alex Soderstrom – Staff Writer, Orlando Business Journal
Feb 24, 2022, 4:02pm EST
GenH2 Corp. will create new jobs on the Space Coast after its acquisition of Titusville-based Pratt Plastics.
GenH2, a Titusville-based company that focuses on the production, storage and dispensing of hydrogen fuel, is transforming the former plastic manufacturing site into its fabrication center. GenH2 will increase its local headcount from 27 employees to 100, founder and CEO Cody Bateman told Orlando Business Journal.
This growth was set in motion by GenH2’s Jan. 24 purchase of Pratt Plastics, which occupied 1.1 acres at 1325 White Drive, for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition was announced on Feb. 22.
Founded in 2020, GenH2 is betting on a rise in the use of hydrogen fuel, long viewed as an alternative to fossil fuels. The purchase of Pratt Plastics grants GenH2 access to high precision, automated CNC machinery and laser cutters the company will use to commercialize its hydrogen fuel infrastructure.
Previously, the highly automated Pratt Plastics facility would bring on contractors as needed, with its team fluctuating between two and nine people. However, that team will grow after the acquisition, GenH2 Vice President of Fabrication and Manufacturing and former Pratt Plastics owner Richard Pratt told OBJ.
“By joining GenH2, the demand for work most definitely will expand going forward and in the foreseeable horizon, we could see the numbers on our manufacturing and fabrication team growing to 25-30 people.”
This is GenH2’s latest expansion in Brevard County. The company in September announced plans to spend $35 million to establish its headquarters in Titusville. The first phase of the headquarters is expected to wrap up in the early part of this year. By then, GenH2 will employ more than 60 people across its Titusville facilities, Bateman said.
Next, some equipment at the former Pratt Plastics facility will be distributed to other GenH2 sites to augment their manufacturing capabilities, Pratt said. GenH2 also operates a lab in Exploration Park near Kennedy Space Center; a fabrication plant in Ruidoso, New Mexico; and administrative offices in San Antonio, Texas.
The growth of Brevard County’s manufacturing sector is important because it further diversifies the economy away from its historic reliance on government space programs and brings well-paying jobs.
Manufacturing is a key industry on the Space Coast, which hosts satellite production, defense manufacturing and aircraft assembly. Manufacturing employs roughly 13% of the metro area’s nonfarm workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s more than the 4.4% of nonfarm workers employed by the industry statewide.
Plus, Florida manufacturing jobs pay an average annual salary of $61,735, according to a 2019 report from Florida TaxWatch. That’s higher than the Palm Bay metro area’s average annual salary of $51,740.
Hydrogen is considered a zero or low-emission fuel, as opposed to carbon dioxide-producing fossil fuels. However, the high cost of producing hydrogen fuel cells and challenges associated with storing hydrogen fuel are some of its drawbacks, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Still, the fuel source has the potential to support millions of jobs. A 2022 report by consulting giant McKinsey & Co. estimates hydrogen and biofuels could support two million direct jobs by 2050.