Solar cell plant in Henderson to employ 250

Posted July 19, 2011

— A Durham semiconductor company plans to build a solar cell plant in Vance County that will employ more than 250 people within five years, officials said Tuesday.

Semprius will invest $89.7 million in the plant and could get up to $18.3 million in state and local grants if it meets investment and hiring targets.

The company has patented a manufacturing process in which semiconductors are printed on glass, plastic or other materials for use in solar panels, liquid-crystal displays, advanced disk drivers and other devices. The CIA and German industrial giant Siemens are among its investors.

"These are skill jobs that provide not only great wages but also training in a high-tech environment," Semprius President and Chief Executive Joe Carr said.

Semprius' high-concentration photovoltaic solar modules can focus the sun's energy at more than 1,100 times onto tiny solar cells, which officials said lowers costs and increases efficiency for solar panel makers.

The 256 jobs at the plant will have an average salary of $45,565, plus benefits. The average salary in Vance County is $30,004.

"These aren't just any jobs," Gov. Beverly Perdue said. "They're making the technology here – They're going to do that in Vance County. Who would have ever thunk it, in North Carolina – that will literally power the world of the future."

The news was greeted in enthusiasm in Vance County, which has one of the state's highest unemployment rates at 13.3 percent.

"The economy is very poor here now. We have very little, if any, industry to speak of here," said David Thomas, a third-generation resident of Henderson. "Companies starting up will certainly have opportunity to help us."

Semprius solar cells Solar cell plant in Henderson to employ 250

Semprius qualified for a $600,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund, which provides cash grants to attract business projects to the state. No money is paid upfront, and companies must meet job and investment targets to obtain the funds.

The state Economic Investment Committee also voted Tuesday to award a Job Development Investment Grant to Semprius. Under the JDIG, the company can receive 61 percent of the state withholding taxes from the new jobs for each of the 11 years in which it meets annual performance targets, which could yield up to $3 million for the company.

Community college training, state sales tax exemptions and local incentives add another $12 million to the total, and the North Carolina Rural Center dedicated its largest grant to date for a single project, $550,000, to the plant.

Golden LEAF, the Rocky Mount-based foundation that funds rural development projects with money North Carolina receives from the national settlement with cigarette makers, also will provide $1.25 million for the Semprius plant.


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  • gnewsome1 Jul 20, 2011

    Good comment ncnick050. The "collective wisdom" expoused by all of these negative and uninformed people could not even draw a thirsty animal to water. What a bunch of moronic know it alls.

  • gnewsome1 Jul 20, 2011

    Did any of you complainers, know it alls and self appointed experts notice that 250 NEW jobs will be created by the company and $89.7 Million in new capital be invested by them. Incentives are part of the recruitment process now. Live with it and take a basic business course.

  • gnewsome1 Jul 20, 2011

    Great news for Vance County and great news for the State. Those of you with such negative comments know absolutely nothing about industry recruitment. You complain when they don't locate in a community and then complain when they do. What a bunch of crybabies. Apparantly you already have a job and are content to sit back and criticize others for doing a great job. We are in the middle of the worst recession ever. If you self-appointed experts failed to miss it, the company will pay an average wage of lands a great company that will pay an average wage, top to bottom, of slightly over $45,000. Vance County needs these jobs as does the state. As far as the incentives go, they are nothing compared to the NEW investment that the company will make. The investment is taxable. I guess you would be happy if they went to another state offering more incentives. The "collective wisdom of GOLO", what a joke.

  • ncnick050 Jul 19, 2011

    Great news for Vance County!! Too bed so many uninformed negative comments: Solar is like perpetual motion?? Not even close. Solar is not cost competitive?? It's already very competitive with peaker plants and in about 3 years will be competitive with baseload plants. $45K jobs will cost the state $73K?? Wrong analysis - why compare salaries paid by the company to incentives paid by the state? Need to look at income tax paid by those jobs, use and property tax paid by company, etc. and compare it to incentives. What about the Cisco jobs?? So is the writer suggesting we give up? No we make up the loss step by step. Why give incentives at all? Because every other state in the union does especially for high tech jobs. No-one is competing for tobacco or furniture jobs - maybe we should stick to those...

  • bigal02282 Jul 19, 2011

    close the plant, shut down the lines, whatusay says nothing works except good old-fashioned petroleum products, so no use in trying to make something useful to replace at least a small part of it. Someone should inform the thousands of workers and millions of customers all over the world making and using these non-working energy solutions. They have obviously been mistaken about the power the solar cells were generating.....

  • PanthersFan45 Jul 19, 2011

    Always nice to see some good news on the jobs front. Bottom line is that there are some jobs to be added here locally and it can only help, not hurt. I'd like to see more stories like this, I want the economy booming once again.

  • whatusay Jul 19, 2011

    Solar power is like perpetual motion. It doesn't work. It's not practical. It costs too much. Same with making fuel from corn. Use the corn for fuel (which is 33% less efficient than gasoline) and drive up the cost of food products be reducing the supply. Why doesn't someone bring back the steam engine that runs on a minute amount of fuel, water, and get over 400 miles/gal and the bi-product of the emmissions is water? Back in the 1930's there were a few built that could reach speeds of 70MPH but no one could afford them, so they lost out to gasoline.

  • whatusay Jul 19, 2011

    I don't see a future for solar panels. They have been around for over 50 years and most people who had then installed on their homes found out they cost more than they saved. A waste of money for tax payers who shovel out the $600,000. If they could produce a profit the $600,000 in grants would not be necessary.

  • Centurian Jul 19, 2011

    Wow! If Henderson continues to get 250 new jobs every 20 years, then economic prosperity could return by.....???

    never mind.

  • mswayze Jul 19, 2011

    the only real concern I'd have if i lived in Henderson is what leftover materials and there disposal are involved with the particular semiconductors they plan to make (hopefully no selenium or gallium arsenide). The tax stuff and where the money goes sounds about par (much like cornbread mafia...)