LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) board approval of a tax-free Renaissance Zone and a $10-million Community Development Block Grant to support United Solar Ovonic’s planned $220-million advanced solar manufacturing facility in Battle Creek’s Fort Custer Industrial Park. The new facility is projected to create up to 350 new jobs at United Solar. The company also has the option to invest another $220 million and build a second manufacturing facility in Battle Creek with the potential for an additional 350 jobs.
“We are working hard to become the alternative energy capital of North America and United Solar’s decision to invest and grow in Michigan shows that our efforts are producing results,” Granholm said. “We will continue to partner with United Solar to diversify our economy and create new energy jobs while helping to end our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.”
The grant is being made available to Calhoun County by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation with funds provided by the federal CDBG program to help with the purchase of machinery and equipment. The city of Battle Creek will contribute $2.6 million to support the project. In addition, the city supports the 153.58-acre, 15-year Renaissance Zone.Renaissance Zone designation allows a company operating within the zone to operate free of virtually all state and local taxes.
Last week, the Michigan Economic Growth Authority approved a state tax credit valued at $17.3 million over 17 years to encourage the company to expand in Battle Creek over a competing site in another state.
“I applaud Calhoun County and the city of Battle Creek for working with us to secure this major investment and solidify United Solar’s growth in Michigan,”said MEDC President and CEO James C. Epolito, who is also chair of the MSF board. “Economic development is a team sport, and when all parties come to the table, we can achieve great things for the state.”
United Solar Ovonic LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: ENER),is the leader in building integrated and commercial rooftop photovoltaics, one of the fastest growing segments of the solar power industry. The company manufactures and sells thin-film solar laminates that convert sunlight to energy using proprietary technology. Distributed globally under the UNI-SOLAR® brand, the company's products are ideally suited for cost-effective solar roofing solutions because they are lightweight, durable, flexible, can be integrated directly with building materials, and generate more energy in real-world conditions. For more information, please visitwww.uni-solar.com.
“We appreciatethe Michigan Strategic Fund’s approval of the Renaissance Zone and Community Development Block Grant, and its continued effort to support the growth of the state of Michigan as a leader in alternative energy development,” said Mark Morelli, Energy Conversion Devices’ President and CEO. “We would also like to recognize Calhoun County, the City of Battle Creek and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for their help during the selection process.”
The new United Solar manufacturing facility in Battle Creek will join two in Auburn Hills and two in Greenville won by Michigan over the past few years in head-to-head competition with other states and countries with the help of the governor, MEDC and local communities.
"Calhoun County is honored to have been able to support United Solar Ovonic's request for its Renaissance Zone application and to be the applicant for a CDBG grant that will assist in equipping the facility,” said Kate Segal, chair of the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners. “The CDBG grant conditions will ensure that a majority of the new jobs will go to low- and moderate-income workers. The company's investment will significantly enhance employment opportunities for the Calhoun County community.”
The MEDC administers the state’s CDBG funds received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Michigan’s Renaissance Zone program.The MEDC, 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 MEDC initiatives and programs, visit the Web site at www.MichiganBusiness.org.
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