Suniva Inc., a Norcross, Georgia-based manufacturer of high-efficiency crystalline silicon solar cells and modules, announced Tuesday, July 22, it is opening a factory in Saginaw Township.
Greg LaMarr, communications manager for Saginaw Future Inc., said the company will make and assemble solar modules at 2650 Schust, formerly a Sears Warehouse.
LaMarr said the company plans to bring hundreds of jobs to Saginaw County over the next three years.
According to Suniva’s website, “Suniva is the leading American manufacturer of high-efficiency, cost-competitive PV solar cells and modules. The company is known worldwide for its high-quality solar products, patented low-cost manufacturing technology, and long-term reliable performance.”
The Michigan Economic Development Corp. on Tuesday announced Michigan Strategic Fund approval of state incentives to nine business expansions and community improvement projects and $6 million in emergency infrastructure funding, a news release states.
Suniva has been awarded a $2.5 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant, according to the release. And Saginaw Township has offered support to the project in the form of property tax abatement.
“Early on, Suniva identified the Great Lakes Bay Region as a strategic location for its continued expansion due to our highly-skilled workforce,” JoAnn Crary, Saginaw Future president, said in a prepared statement. “To attract such an industry leader is a strong testament to the quality of our people, and the commitment of our region and Michigan to the growth and expansion of our solar industry cluster. We are very pleased that our long term partnership with Suniva is coming to fruition with meaningful job creation.”
These plans mark the second effort to establish a solar panel maker in Saginaw County. A company called GlobalWatt leased a building in Saginaw for manufacturing, but it never opened. Company officials said there was a lack of market demand.
Marc Rogovin is vice president and chief procurement officer for Suniva.
“We’re going to take over (a) 127,000-square-foot facility in Saginaw Township, and going to be building a 200 megawatt solar panel facility (within the existing building),” he said.
Rogovin said the company had plans to come to Saginaw County’s Thomas Township a few years ago, but those plans did not materialize.
“We had a competitive process of looking at multiple states, and we had a relationship since 2009 with Saginaw and the state of Michigan, as originally we were going to build a ground-up facility in Thomas Township, but timing was not right.”
He said Suniva chose Saginaw County, in part, because of its geographic location.
“It’s in the middle of the country, so it works well for us. …It’s straight up (Interstate) 75 from our factory.”
In addition, “Michigan has had a long history of having high-quality manufacturing talent,” he said.
The location also is close to Hemlock Semiconductor, which makes polysilicon used in solar panels.
Rogovin said plans will move forward right away.
“We plan on having the factory in Q4 of this year, and we are in the process of working on the construction permits with the township and hope to start some initial phase of that in the beginning on August.”
He said hiring is to begin immediately, with about 75 hired initially.
“Over a three-year period we will hire 350 people.”
He added, “We’re going to be working with Michigan Works! and Delta College and trying to hire the local talent.”
John Baumstark is chairman and chief executive officer of Suniva.
“The U.S. market has spoken and has clearly stated that it values a company that was born in the USA, is owned in the USA, and builds high-quality products here,” Baumstark said in a prepared statement. “We are honored by that validation, and pleased that our success is allowing us to give back by the creation of additional U.S. jobs.”