Hundreds of new jobs coming to Saginaw County - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Hundreds of new jobs coming to Saginaw County

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(07/22/14) - Georgia-based solar manufacturer, Suniva, is expanding into Michigan.

We first heard of Suniva back in 2009. They had originally planned to build at a Thomas Township site, but the company's chief financial officer says the so-called "solar coaster" kept them from realizing those plans.

Suniva leaders came to Lansing, Tuesday, to formalize a $2.5 million performance-based grant before the Michigan Strategic Fund board. Suniva plans to invest $12.5 million into Saginaw County and add 350 new jobs. Suniva will also be bringing 85 tractor-trailers worth of equipment to town.

Here in Mid-Michigan, Suniva will make solar panels. They'll do so inside the old Sears warehouse building in Saginaw Township.

They haven't officially signed the lease yet, but plan to have that taken care of by next week. Suniva was waiting on the Michigan Economic Development Corporation grant to go through before signing on the dotted line.

From there, Suniva plans to start remodeling the building on Aug. 1. Their goal is to be manufacturing solar panels no later than the fourth quarter of this year.

"Good news is it's an existing building, so we don't have to worry about a lot of construction. But we're trying to get it up and running as quickly as possible, but no later than the fourth quarter of this year,"  said James Modak, Suniva CFO.

Township Supervisor Tim Braun says the whole region will benefit.

"Very significant, manufacturing jobs, should be a very good wage from what we understand, a livable wage," he said.

Suniva will need manufacturing, technical and management workers.

"Our workforce is very strong here. We have generations of manufacturing expertise and you don't find that everywhere," said JoAnn Crary, of Saginaw Future.

"Saginaw Future" helped entice Suniva to locate here. Next up, the economic development organization is making sure they find the right workers.

"Projects like this take teamwork. Michigan Works! is already working with the company to put those jobs on the Michigan Talent Bank, Delta College is providing training and we hope that the company is up and operating this fall," Crary said.

“The Delta College campus state-of-the-art labs, facilities and expert instructors provide the ideal technical training facility and we look forward to assisting Suniva,” Jennifer Carroll, director of Delta College Corporate Services, said in a statement.

So why did Suniva choose Michigan?

"It was a competitive choice between, among five different states. And Michigan lead with their people, the atmosphere and obviously the incentives," Modak said.

Suniva says it's one of only a few U.S. based and owned solar companies. It plans to make 750,000 units a year, powering about 30,000 homes.

The company also says to expect more information about jobs to be released soon, including some job fairs. We'll update you as soon as we learn more.
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