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Blade Dynamics Plans LA Turbine Plant

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has announced that Blade Dynamics will manufacture advanced wind turbine blades and wind turbine components at the Michoud Assembly Facility, or MAF, in New Orleans.

Blade Dynamics has committed to create 600 new, direct jobs by 2015 at an average annual salary of about $48,000, plus benefits, as well as a capital investment of approximately $13 million. LED estimates the new, direct jobs will result in the creation of more than 970 new, indirect jobs, for a total of more than 1,570 new, direct and indirect jobs in Louisiana. In addition, LED estimates the Blade Dynamics project will result in $35.8 million in new, state tax revenue and $23.9 million in new, local tax revenue over the next 10 years.

Gov. Jindal was joined at the announcement ceremony by Blade Dynamics Ltd. co-Founder and Sales Director Theo Botha,  Dow Chemical’s Global Business Director of Government Markets & Lightweight Materials Douglas Parks, American Superconductor Corp. Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer John Collett, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Director Robert Lightfoot and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

“This is a huge win for New Orleans and our whole state,” said Gov. Jindal. “By recruiting Blade Dynamics and its revolutionary wind power technologies to Louisiana, we are creating hundreds of high-paying new jobs in New Orleans while diversifying the economy of this region.  Today’s announcement marks a significant step forward for Louisiana into renewable energy and green manufacturing that will help us continue to grow our economy.”

Blade Dynamics has developed wind turbine blade technologies designed to increase the efficiency and performance of high power (multimegawatt) wind turbines, while also reducing costs. Dow, through its Venture Capital group, and AMSC each have made a minority equity investment in Blade Dynamics.

Gov. Jindal continued: “Louisiana possesses a remarkable combination of assets that make our state an outstanding place in which to launch a green business. We have a low-cost manufacturing environment, well-established transportation and logistics networks, an experienced workforce in energy production and experience in rebuilding with green techniques. Indeed, renewable energy and green manufacturing is one of our target growth industries that will help to diversify our economy, attract more businesses to Louisiana and most importantly, create more jobs for our people so they can find the same kinds of opportunities here that historically they have had to pursue in places like Dallas, Houston or Atlanta.”

“We see tremendous potential for our technology and are delighted to align ourselves with American Superconductor Corp. and The Dow Chemical Co.,” said Botha. “Our relationship with and the commitments from the state of Louisiana and NASA will also significantly impact the success of our operations and we are looking forward to furthering both of those relationships.”

Blade Dynamics was attracted to MAF by a variety of factors, including the availability of specialized equipment previously funded by LED for the benefit of NASA and made available to Blade Dynamics; the attractiveness of the full-service MAF facility; the state’s workforce solution, Louisiana FastStart™; and a competitive state incentive package.

To help secure this project, LED offered a customized incentive package to Blade Dynamics, including performance-based financial assistance of $5.4 million to offset lease costs at MAF, performance-based financial assistance of $6 million to offset equipment purchases and performance-based financial assistance of $0.5 million to reimburse projected relocation costs. Through Louisiana FastStart, LED also will provide customized employee recruitment, screening, training development and training delivery to Blade Dynamics. The company also intends to use LED’s Quality Jobs program.

“This is an exciting win for Louisiana not only because of the new, high-paying jobs it will bring, but also because Blade Dynamics is in one of our top new target growth industries for Louisiana – green manufacturing,” said Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret. “In fact, this is the second time in less than two months that we have announced a major new project in one of our Blue Ocean target industry sectors in the New Orleans area. We are working hard every day to position Louisiana’s economy to outperform the South and U.S. on a regular basis.”

MAF is an 832-acre site owned by NASA and located in eastern New Orleans. One of the largest manufacturing campuses in the world, NASA and Lockheed Martin have used this site for the construction of the space shuttle’s external fuel tanks for more than 30 years. The facility is undergoing a transformation to become a multitenant complex for government agencies and their contractors, as well as commercial businesses. For more than a year, LED, NASA and Jacobs Technology Inc. have been collaborating to attract new advanced manufacturing tenants to MAF. More than a million square feet of MAF currently is available for additional high-tech, private-sector tenants.

“We are happy to enter into this initial agreement to make Michoud the location for Blade Dynamics’ U.S. subsidiary,” said NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility Transition Manager Steve Doering. “Like NASA, Blade Dynamics is utilizing advanced technology to improve the state of the industry, making it an ideal fit for the transformed Michoud campus.”

Blade Dynamics’ proprietary designs will provide compelling advantages for wind turbines rated at two megawatts and higher. This platform also is expected to break industry barriers by enabling blades greater than 80 meters (264 feet) in length for wind turbines with power ratings of 10 megawatts or more that are currently under development.

“The design and manufacturing processes for wind turbine blades have remained fundamentally unchanged for 20 years,” said AMSC Founder, Chairman and CEO Gregory Yurek. “Today, however, the market is migrating to higher wind turbine power ratings. Onshore wind turbines now exceed two megawatts in many locations and offshore wind farm developers are increasingly seeking wind turbines with power ratings exceeding five megawatts. Blade Dynamics presents us — and the entire wind industry — with a game-changing wind turbine blade technology that enhances performance and reduces weight and cost for high-power wind turbines. We view this as a compelling investment and expect many wind turbine manufacturers, including our own AMSC Windtec™ licensees, to quickly migrate to the Blade Dynamics solution to avail themselves of these competitive advantages. In fact, AMSC Windtec and Blade Dynamics engineers have already been working in close collaboration to optimize blades for AMSC Windtec turbine designs.”

“Dow believes Blade Dynamics’ technology has the potential to significantly improve the performance of wind power generation and transform the industry,” said Monty Bayer, global business director, Dow Ventures & Business Development, Licensing and Venture Capital. “This investment is another example of Dow’s commitment to supporting and accelerating the development of innovative technologies and alternative energy solutions.”

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