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GlobalWatt Solar Panel Manufacturer to Add 500 Jobs to Great Lakes Bay Area

State Approves Tax Credits for Morley Expansion for Employment of 700 More

December 15, 2009       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Diagram of photovoltaic cell used by GlobalWatt, Silicon Valley solar panel company expanding in Saginaw.

The vision of a "Solar Valley" here is apparently coming true.

The Michigan Economic Growth Authority today approved tax credits and other incentives for Great Lakes Bay Region industries and firms planning to move here.

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced that the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is helping 10 companies grow in Michigan and is backing eight brownfield redevelopment projects.

One major project supported is the move of San Jose, California-based solar panel manufacturer GlobalWatt to Saginaw, beating out a bid by Corpus Christi Texas.

Another is the expansion of Morley Companies here rather than in competing states.

The two new developments are expected to add about 1,200 new jobs here among about 9,000 jobs stemming from the 18 total projects to boost the Michigan economy.

Growth here is driven by the fact that the Hemlock Semiconductor plant of Dow Corning Corp., in Freeland, is fast becoming recognized as a world center for manufacture of crystalline silicon. That material is a key component in solar panels and other products.

GlobalWatt will make a $177 million investment in a vacant 74,000-square-foot facility in Saginaw, formerly the home of Enterprise Automotive Systems (EAS), in the old GM Powertrain/Nodular Iron complex, 1200 Leon Scott Ct., as its new solar module plant. Headquartered in Warren, the EAS Saginaw plant produced power transmission, engine block and other auto components.

GlobalWatt site selector Kathy Mussio told the Corpus Christi news media Saginaw won out over Corpus Christi because of its proximity to a large, new polycrystalline silicon production plant and cell manufacturing plant and to a supply of skilled, unemployed auto workers.

"Michigan and especially Saginaw Valley is in an established supply chain that GlobalWatt could become an integral piece of," she said. "That made a huge difference. It's different than plopping a business down in a city alone."

Michigan offered GlobalWatt $14 million of incentives to encourage the company to come to Michigan over Corpus Christi. In addition, the Saginaw City Council is expected to approve a $13 million incentive.

The plant would produce modules, or panels, made of crystalline cells that can be used to build solar energy farms and to power individual buildings.

The 18 projects are expected to create 6,804 new jobs (2,236 direct and 4,418 indirect), retain 2,263 jobs, and generate over $672 million in new investment in the state.

The projects, besides the new-to-Michigan company that plans to assemble crystalline silicon solar panels in Saginaw, include an automotive parts manufacturer that plans to expand into the aerospace sector in Traverse City, and brownfield redevelopments that will transform abandoned and contaminated sites into new centers of economic growth and activity.

"These expansion projects, located across the state and in different business sectors, are a great way to close out the year," Granholm said. "Companies are taking advantage of our excellent work force, competitive business climate and innovative economic development tools to locate or expand in Michigan. Our aggressive strategy to diversify and grow Michigan's economy is working."

Morley Companies Inc. plans to invest $3 million in an expansion to attract new business opportunities in Saginaw. The project will create 960 new jobs, including 700 directly by the company. The MEDC estimates increased economic activity created by the project will create an additional 260 indirect jobs.

Based on the MEDC's recommendation, the MEGA board today approved a state tax credit valued at $8.1 million over 10 years to help convince the company to locate in Michigan over competing sites in Florida and Connecticut. Saginaw County is considering an abatement in support of the project. The firm is a provider of services such as group travel, research and performance improvement to Fortune 500 companies.

GlobalWatt Inc., the new-to-Michigan photovoltaic module manufacturer plans to invest $177 million to create a fully integrated production line to assemble crystalline silicon solar panels in Saginaw.

The project will create 2,768 total jobs, including 500 directly by the company. The MEDC estimates the increased economic activity created by the project will create an additional 2,268 indirect jobs.

Based on the MEDC's recommendation, the MEGA board today approved a state tax credit valued at $14 million over seven years to encourage the company to expand in Michigan over a competing site in Texas. The city of Saginaw is considering an incentive valued at $13 million over 15 years in support of the project.

"These projects demonstrate the spirit of collaboration alive in Michigan where the state and local communities can partner and make strong business cases to win investment and jobs from the world's most innovative companies over competing locations not only in the United States, but all over the world," MEDC President and CEO Greg Main said.

The Michigan Economic Growth Authority, the state's response to interstate competition for company expansions and relocations, may provide a refundable tax credit against the Michigan Business Tax (MBT) to companies expanding or relocating their operations in Michigan. Since January 2009, nearly 100,000 new and retained jobs have been announced as a result of the MEGA program.

Michigan brownfield programs provide incentives to invest in property that has been used for industrial, commercial or residential purposes and to keep that property in productive use or return it to productive use. Brownfield incentives can be used for functionally obsolete, blighted, or contaminated property.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life. For more information on the MEDC?s initiatives and programs, visit the Web site at ###

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at

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