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Toledo's MicroDevices grows on strength of advanced materials used in tiny devices

Chris Melkonian, the CEO and founder of Midwest MicroDevices, says if you don't know too much about micro-electro mechanical systems, that's OK. He thinks you will soon enough.

The downtown-Toledo-based company has continued to grow at a steady pace since its founding in 2004. Melkonian says Midwest's niche is a new and emerging MEMs market, focusing on unusual materials and incredibly tiny wafers but the company can just about do it all.

There are a dozen employees at Midwest MicroDevices. Most of them suit up head-to-toe in a "bunny suit" in what's known as a clean room. These employees work on devices often smaller than a human hair (think miniscule sensor of a car's airbag).

"You won't find too many companies doing the kind of hi-tech work we're doing here in Northwest Ohio," Melkonian says. "I am very proud of that."

The company has received a healthy dose of support from area and state institutions. Melkonian and Co. are graduates of the Regional Growth Partnership, which offered support, marketing and financing. The Ohio Department of Development provided an Ohio Innovation Loan to the company. The University of Toledo's Science, Technology and Innovation Enterprises have also partnered with the startup. "We've gotten a lot of support from University of Toledo," he says. "We collaborate with professors, we select students for internships and we hire graduates."

Melkonian says he hopes to considerably ramp up business in the next couple of years, adding two more shifts and as many as 10 skilled positions.

"I started a startup company at possibly one of the worst times you can," he says. "If the economy can start to turn around, and as we add more business, we'll definitely have a real jump in employees."

Source: Chris Melkonian, Midwest MicroDevices 
Writer: Colin McEwen
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