Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and officials from Stion, a venture-backed manufacturer of high-efficiency, low-cost thin film solar panels, announced this week that the company is locating a 100-megawatt solar panel production facility in Hattiesburg, MS. The operations will be located in the Sunbeam building. The production line is the first phase of a company investment of $500 million that will create 1,000 new jobs over the next six years. “Today’s announcement that Stion is locating a thin film solar panel manufacturing facility in Hattiesburg is further proof that Mississippi is an ideal location for clean energy companies to locate and expand,” Governor Haley Barbour said. “I am pleased to welcome Stion to Mississippi, and I thank the company for creating so many high-quality jobs for Mississippi’s workers.” From its Hattiesburg location, Stion will utilize its proprietary material and process expertise to produce its high-efficiency, thin film solar panels. The 110W to 120W panels are designed for use in all major applications, including commercial /government, residential, utility and off-grid and offer significant cost and performance advantages over many competing products. The company will use approximately 300,000 square feet of the Hattiesburg facility to manufacture the solar panels. “Together, the state of Mississippi, Forrest County, and the city of Hattiesburg offer a business-friendly location with a strong resource base for manufacturing,” said Chet Farris, Stion’s president and chief executive officer. “We are pleased to partner with them to help increase domestic production of clean energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the local and national economy.” The State of Mississippi is providing loan assistance totaling $75 million through the Mississippi Industry Incentive Financing Revolving Fund, pending approval by the Legislature. The State is also providing clean energy tax incentives and workforce training incentives for the project. Additionally, local officials provided tax and other financial incentives to assist with the project. “In 2010, Mississippi sought legislation to target clean energy companies, and Stion’s location in Hattiesburg is a result of this effort,” said Gray Swoope, Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) executive director. “I am excited to see Stion occupy the Sunbeam building. I know firsthand that the quality of the building coupled with the area’s workforce equals a win-win situation for the community and the company.” Founded in 2006, Stion currently produces its highly-efficient, low-cost thin film solar panels in its state-of-the-art, 100,000-square-foot manufacturing and research and development facility in San Jose, Calif., where the company is headquartered.
Thin-film solar technology developer W Solar Group will relocate its headquarters from California to Wisconsin, where it will build a $300 million factory. The company will receive $28 million in state incentives for the project, which is expected to create 620 jobs when the new plant ramps up to full capacity by 2015. W Solar has developed a copper-indium-gallium-sellenium (CIGS) solar panel technology, which offers lower cost per watt solar panels. W Solar was awarded Enterprise Zone tax credits from the state’s Department of Commerce for the company to establish its manufacturing facility, along with its corporate headquarters and research and development facilities, in Dane County, WI. Wisconsin’s Department of Commerce has previously helped solar companies including Cardinal Glass, 5NPlus, PDM Solar, ZBB Technologies, and Helios. Officials believe the solar industry is on track for a tenfold growth in the next decade, while around half of the new factory’s output could be destined for overseas markets. W Solar Group, which will move from its current HQ in Chatsworth, outside Los Angeles, is now considering several locations in Wisconsin for its new plant, which will is slated to begin production in 2012. Conditions for the state incentives include targets for creating jobs in 2013 and 2014 prior to full production a year later. The company has also made a commitment to purchase materials and services from Wisconsin suppliers in an effort to create or retain additional jobs in the state. “We are impressed with the high quality workforce, extensive supply chain, and the commitment to producing world-class products. Making Wisconsin our home is the right decision, and W Solar’s goal is to be a great addition to the Wisconsin economy. Wisconsin’s role as a leading manufacturing state with hard-working people also contributed to our decision to make the Badger State the place to grow our company,” said Chris Hamrin, president and CEO of W Solar Group.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who took office this week, wants to abolish the state Department of Commerce and replace it with a public-private economic development agency, according to a report in the Superior Telegram. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation would be run by a 12-person board chaired by Walker and filled with his appointees. “Think about this corporation kind of like being the local Chamber of Commerce,” Walker told the Superior Telegram. “We need to have an entity that’s about promoting Wisconsin, promoting jobs, telling the world and everybody here in the state that we’re open for business and what we can do to help make that possible.” Wisconsin formed a similar partnership in the early 1980s called Forward Wisconsin, but the initiative was phased out a few years ago due to lack of donations from the private sector and a focus on other economic development tools. Gov. Walker’s proposal would either eliminate regulatory functions now held by the state Department of Commerce or move these functions to other agencies. The governor also wants to require employees currently working in Commerce to reapply for their jobs. Gov. Walker’s proposal is modeled after a similar public-private partnership in Indiana. Officials there say using private money has given them more freedom to travel abroad and host receptions to recruit potential employers.
From the Desk of the Editor in Chief
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With one of the fastest-growing clean energy sectors in the nation, including electric car manufacturing, the Volunteer State is poised for growth.
Refusing to bow to a plague of disasters—including a hurricane, a huge oil spill and a national economic downturn—Louisiana responds with a diverse, innovative growth strategy.
Construction Begins on ADA Tech Park in Ardmore A public-private partnership between the Ardmore Development Authority (ADA) and ATP Investments, LLC began construction this month on a 47-acre technology park in Ardmore, OK. The park will be located on the west side of Ardmore, approximately 1 mile from Interstate 35. The first phase of construction will consist of putting in the initial stages of infrastructure to the park, aesthetic improvements to the site and the construction of a 5000 square foot building that will be used as a business incubator. The incubator will house a 500 ft. clean room. There will be eight lots ranging is size from approximately 2.5 acres to 4.5 acres. “This will give Ardmore a tangible product we can show to prospects we are recruiting,” states Brien Thorstenberg, ADA vice president. “This is attractive to high tech companies particularly if they need to reserve funds for operations rather than incurring a capital expense. Sites will be available for those companies in position to construct and own their facility,” Thorstenberg adds. “This park also gives Ardmore the ability to leverage the R&D base that already exists in Ardmore with the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Amethyst Research, Inc. and Southwest Silicon Technologies.” Flanders Now Operating at Full Speed The Flanders Corporation is operating at full production in their manufacturing and distribution facility at the New Horizons Industrial Park (a half mile east of Interstate 35 just south of Highway 70). Flanders announced their decision to locate in Ardmore, January of this year, and began production in April. They anticipated hiring 100 employees in their first year of operation, but have hired approximately 220 at this point. They plan to have 400 employees at full production. “We are very pleased with our new location in Ardmore,” states Ron Abel, Flanders director of East Coast operations. “We have an excellent work force, and the location of Ardmore has allowed our company to consolidate some of our operations to increase our competitive advantage. We have been pleased with the assistance we have received from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, the Southern Oklahoma Technology Center, the Ardmore Development Authority, and other state and local organizations.” The Flanders Corporation based in Washington, NC designs, manufactures and markets the highest quality filter, clean room, and containment filtration systems. The Ardmore facility manufactures and distributes air filtration products for both residential and commercial applications. Brien Thorstenberg, Ardmore Development Authority vice president, adds that Ardmore is fortunate have Flanders in our community. “During a year when […]