Suniva in Saginaw Township to close its doors

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SAGINAW TOWNSHIP (WJRT) - (03/30/17) - UPDATE Two years ago it was honored as a business bringing growth and jobs to the region. Today- ABC 12 News has learned that Suniva is closing. And the majority of the 60 plus workers at the Saginaw Township solar panel company are out of work.

We spoke with a former employee who thought he'd be returning to work here in April, he's learned that's no longer the case.

"They are shutting down the plant yes, the plant's done in Saginaw, no manufacturing at all in Saginaw," said Terry Moore.

Moore has worked as a maintenance technician at Suniva since April of 2015. He was layed off in February. and again last Thursday, but thought it was only temporary.

Then his boss notified him by email that the plant is closing for the "foreseeable future."

Moore says he's dissapointed, "Yes it was a tight knit community....I really liked working there."

Moore says there were just over 60 employees.. This news comes on the heels of layoffs in February in which Moore says another shift was eliminated.

We reached out to Suniva who - citing continued downward market pricing pressures - referred us to a statement released yesterday which reads in part, "Suniva, Inc. announced a significant reduction in force, at both its Norcross, Georgia and Saginaw, Michigan facilities, affecting employees in all areas of company operations."

Township manager Rob Grose says the loss of any employees hurts:

"[Those] working here and shopping and doing their local business here will have an economic impact on us as well."

Grose tells us that the Township provided tax exemptions to Suniva -- so they still owe the Township for a portion of that benefit that could be close to $20,000.

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UPDATE A Saginaw Township Business is closing its doors after more than two years in business.

Suniva Inc. --which manufactures solar cells and high power solar modules - announced its cutting its workforce..

ABC 12's Amy Hybels stopped by their Saginaw Township location and filed the following report.

We spoke with a plant manager who tells us there were only about ten employees remaining, and he doesn't know how long he'll be here...he told us they are no longer producing products.

We reached out to company officials to try and get an exact number, they would only refer us to a statement published yesterday that reads in part, "Suniva Inc. announced a significant reduction in force, both its Norcross, Georgia and Saginaw, Michigan facilities, affecting employees in all areas of company operations."

We've also reached out to former employees, one telling us he was notified last night by a text message that the company was closing its doors in Saginaw. Steve Stanuszek --who built solar panels--says the work force was cut in half back in February--he survived that round of cuts, was layed off March 23rd and told he would return to work in April.

Of course that was before he got the text message last night

I also spoke with JoAnne Crary with "Saginaw Future" this afternoon.

She tells me there were about 67 employees remaining at the end of February.

She says in discussions with the company they had cited global oversupply and price compression as the reasons for the reduction in workforce.

Saginaw Township Manager Rob Grose tells us if there's any silver lining to this, it's that the building is owned by a local investor: "The building was remodeled and rehabbed, " he told us. He hopes another industry will make use of that space.

Grose says the township provided tax exemptions to Suniva----so the company will still owe the Township for a portion of that benefit that could be close to 20-thousand dollars.

A Chinese company - Shunfeng - which reportedly acquired a 63% stake in Suniva in 2015 - is now reporting net losses in 2016 of nearly 350-million dollars which its blaming on its investment in solar.
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Suniva has announced what it calls "significant" layoffs at its Saginaw Township plant and facilities in Georgia.

Suniva says foreign competition of solar panels has driven down prices.

Back in 2014, the company announced plans to expand in Saginaw County and add 350 jobs.

We'll continue to follow this information closely and update it all for you this afternoon.



 
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