United Solar Ovonic Bringing High-Tech Solar Manufacturing Facility, 350 New Jobs to Battle Creek

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Company to build its fifth solar manufacturing facility in Michigan

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) President and CEO James E. Epolito today announced that Auburn Hills-based United Solar Ovonic LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Energy conversion Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: ENER)plans to make $220 million in investment in its new, high-tech solar cell manufacturing facility in the BattleCreek Fort Custer Industrial Park. The project is estimated 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 with the potential for 350 additional jobs, also in Battle Creek’s Fort Custer Industrial Park.

“At a time when Michigan is positioning itself as the alternative energy capital of North America, United Solar’s decision to continue investing in Michigan reinforces that our state is now a national powerhouse in the solar materials sector,” Granholm said. “We look forward to a continuing partnership with themas we work to diversify our economy and create new energy jobs while becomingthe state that helps end our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.” 

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.   

“Today’s announcement validates our aggressive economic strategy and sends a clear signal to the rest of the world that Michigan is a great state to dobusiness in,” Epolito said. “I applaud the city of Battle Creek and Battle Creek Unlimited for working with us to make a strong business case to win this major investment and solidify United Solar’s growth in Michigan.”

Based on the MEDC’s recommendation, the Michigan Economic Growth Authority board today approved a state tax credit valued at $17.3 million over20 years to win the company’s expansion over competing sites nationwide. Additional support through the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programand approval of a Renaissance Zone are under consideration.To support the project, the city of Battle Creek is supporting the approval of the Renaissance Zone and has proposed up to a 30 percent match of potential CDBG funding. In addition, the city is considering a 12-year property tax abatement.

The United Solar expansion is one of nine economic development projects announced by the Governor today. In all, they are expected to create and retain a total of 7,642Michigan jobs.

“We look forward to becoming a part of the Battle Creek community, and we expect to create 350 local jobs within the next 3 years,” Energy Conversion Devices President and CEO Mark Morelli said. “I’d like to thank Calhoun County, the City of Battle Creek and the MEDC for their help during the selection process and their on-going support. The economic incentives offered by State, County and Battle Creek governments, and the support and assistance of the MEDC were key elements in our decision to choose Battle Creek, without which we would not have been able to expand in this community.”

United Solar 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 withbuilding materials, and generate more energy in real-world conditions. For more information, please visit www.uni-solar.com.

An economic analysis conducted by the MEDC estimates that increased economic activity created by the new facilities will create 3,062 spin-off jobs throughout the state, in addition to the 700 potential jobs created directly by United Solar. The project is expected to generate more than $3 billion in personal income for Michigan workers over the life of the tax credit.

In her 2008 State of the State address, Granholm emphasized the importance of creating opportunity in the changing world of the 21st century. Since January 2005, the Governor and the MEDC have announced the creation or retention of more than 286,000 jobs as a result of targeted assistance provided by the MEDC.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.