Brad Mohring had reached a crossroads. Until recently the 31-year-old design engineer had worked for a Toledo, Ohio-based company that builds manufacturing equipment for automobile plants. With the auto industry struggling, he figured it was only a matter of time before he'd be laid off. So this spring he began looking for a new job. In a few weeks he had four offers. Today he could have been working for a giant defense contractor or an established agricultural company. Instead, he chose the lowest-paying job--and became the 20th employee at Xunlight, a Toledo-based solar-energy firm. "I left a job I'd worked at for 12 years to join a start-up," says Mohring, who has a 1-year-old child and another due in February. "It's something of a gamble, but if it pays off, it pays off big."
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