Tipton County Could Receive 800 New Jobs

President Barack Obama announced Saturday that Abound Solar has been given a $400 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy to expand its operations in Longmont, Colo., and to purchase the vacant Getrag Transmission building on U.S. 31 in Tipton County, IN.

Abound Solar has been negotiating with Tipton County officials for approximately nine months and are expected to provide up to 1,200 jobs when the plant is in full operation. The company makes state-of-the-art solar panels, which are sold for industrial and commercial applications with a large market in Europe. The company expects the Tipton site will be the largest solar panel manufacturing facility in the U.S., producing millions of panels annually.

“State and local representatives from Indiana were particularly instrumental in our efforts to finalize plans for this state-of-the-art facility and create high-paying jobs for Hoosier workers,” said Steve Abely, Abound Solar chief financial officer. “We are excited about the opportunity to make America a global driver of renewable, affordable and abundant solar energy.” The company intends to hire for positions such as engineers, technicians and production associates once facility renovations begin.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has worked alongside the Tipton County Commissioners, the Indiana Secretary of State’s office and the U.S. Department of Energy to assist Abound Solar in finalizing its purchase of the more than 800,000 square-foot facility. The move represents a more than $500 million investment in machinery, equipment and building improvements.

“While the loss of Getrag was disappointing after so much work, the region will now add 850 new jobs — what a great way to celebrate Independence Day,” said Gov. Mitch Daniels in a press release.

“This is a terrific deal,” he said, noting most of the proceeds from the sale of the building will go to contractors who weren’t paid when Getrag filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009.

The IEDC offered Abound Solar, Inc. up to $11.85 million in performance-based tax credits and $250,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans and will also provide workforce and ombudsman assistance. Tipton County has approved additional incentives, including tax abatement for the company along with tax increment financing dollars to the land trust that owns the building.

The Getrag plant was being constructed as a joint venture between Chrysler and Germany’s Getrag Transmission LLC. The plant was expected to provide up to 800 jobs, but with construction not complete in 2008, Chrysler pulled out of the agreement and filed a lawsuit against Getrag.

The bankruptcy court put the sale of the building in the hands of a trust, which represented several contractors who were unpaid for work performed at the Tipton site. The trust had until September to sell the building.

Tipton County officials provided $13 million as an incentive to lower the cost of the building to Abound Solar.

Tipton County Commissioner Jane Harper said Abound Solar selected Tipton County last September when it applied for the Department of Energy loan.