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W Solar To Relocate to Wisconsin in $28 Million Move

The thin film solar module manufacturer will move corporate HQ and R & D facilities to Wisconsin, creating 620 jobs. The project represents a capital investment of over $300 million.

Governor Jim Doyle last week announced that W Solar Group will receive up to $28 million in Enterprise Zone tax credits from the Department of Commerce (Commerce) to establish a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin, and locate its corporate headquarters and research and development facilities in Dane County.

“I am really happy to announce the state will provide $28 million in Enterprise Zone tax credits to help W Solar establish a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin and create more than 600 jobs,” Governor Doyle said. “W Solar choosing to locate its manufacturing facility in Wisconsin is a testament to the hard work we’ve done over the past eight years to build a strong sector of our economy around clean energy and high end manufacturing. This investment will create new business opportunities and jobs at suppliers throughout the region.”

The company expects to create about 620 jobs between its headquarters, R&D and manufacturing facilities.  The project represents a capital investment of over $300 million.  Governor Doyle has used the powerful Enterprise Zones credits to help retain and create jobs at Quad Graphics, Bucyrus, Mercury Marine, Republic Airways, ULINE, Marinette Marine, and Oshkosh Corporation.

The U.S. and international solar markets are expected to grow rapidly in the years ahead.  Wisconsin is a national leader in solar installations.  Among the companies Commerce has assisted are Cardinal Glass, 5NPlus, PDM Solar, ZBB Technologies, and Helios.

“W Solar Group was attracted to Wisconsin early in our search for a project location,” Chris Hamrin, President and Chief Executive Officer W Solar Group said. “We are impressed with the high quality workforce, extensive supply chain, and the commitment to producing world-class products.  Making Wisconsin our home is the right decision, and W Solar’s goal is to be a great addition to the Wisconsin economy.  Wisconsin’s role as a leading manufacturing state with hard-working people also contributed to our decision to make the Badger State the place to grow our company.”

This project builds on Governor Doyle’s efforts to position Wisconsin for future growth.  Since taking office in 2003, Governor Doyle has worked aggressively to create and retain jobs in Wisconsin.  Governor Doyle’s budget last year created some of the strongest economic development tools in the nation to help businesses create jobs and get people back to work. Wisconsin now has powerful new tax credits to help manufacturers create and retain jobs, new tools to help investors create start-ups, and new incentives to spur research and development.

Chris Hamrin praised Wisconsin as an ideal location for the company’s expansion plan.  The privately-held company is currently located in Chatsworth, California.

W Solar Group is currently considering locations for its headquarters and research and development facility as well as its manufacturing operation.  The company expects to open its headquarters and research and development facilities in the first half of 2011 and begin manufacturing in 2012.  Plans call for expanding production and the number of jobs in 2013 and 2014, with the facility reaching full capacity in 2015.

As W Solar Group expands and begins manufacturing, the number of full-time jobs will grow, and reaching full capacity in 2015 will create more than 620 jobs.  The company has made a commitment to purchase materials and services from Wisconsin suppliers in an effort to create or retain additional jobs.

W Solar Group has a highly efficient technology for producing thin film solar panels on a large scale and at a lower cost than its competitors.  The projected global market for solar panels will increase more than tenfold over the next decade and the company anticipates about half of its production will be exported to overseas markets.
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