Major expansion for Wood County company that does business around the world

Published: Jun. 8, 2018 at 5:42 PM EDT
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A major expansion for a Wood County company that does business all over the world. First Solar broke ground on a new one-million square foot facility in Lake Township Friday. There will be 500 new jobs at the plant. The project will also create 500 construction jobs.

With the turn of the shovels, First Solar officially marked the construction of it's newest manufacturing facility. Mike Koralewski is the Senior VP of Global Manufacturing,"This is a tremendous growth opportunity for our company, the region and the United States."

The new factory is just a mile down the road from the company's other facility in Perrysburg Township. It will triple capacity, making First Solar the largest solar manufacturer in the United States.

Steve Krum is the Director of Communications,"We have ridden out the ups and downs of the industry from the start. A year and a half ago we had to lay off employees because we had to stop production to re-tool. That was a very tough thing to do. We are happy to say we're back, we're strong and we are as committed as ever to northwest Ohio."

Krum says First Solar is investing $400 million in the new facility, "This factory will be the leading edge in our high tech manufacturing process and it will be the benchmark for all the manufacturing we do from here on out."

The new plant will be home to First Solar's newest product, the Series 6 solar module. Koralewski says it's much more efficient than its predecessor, "Series 6 is a 3x6 large form panel. It is much easier to install and you get more energy per square foot from it."

Wood County Commissioner Craig LaHote says the new plant will mean more than just new tax revenue for the region, "It's nice to have this type of technology here so that we can keep some of our best and brightest students. We can cut down on the so-called brain drain we often hear about."

According to Krum there will be a number of jobs available,"We are bringing on production assistants, managers, supply chain workers. All the positions related to the operation of an advanced manufacturing operation. We're finding that skill set right here in northwest Ohio and the incredible workforce is one of the main reasons we are committed to this area.."

The new plant will be up and running by late next year.