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SANYO breaks ground for solar Sanyo breaks ground for solar manufacturing plant and brings a little

October 15, 2008


Wednesday, October 15, 2008 RICHARD READ The Oregonian Staff

Salem city officials expect a groundbreaking in the capital today to inject a ray of hope into a cloudy economic week for Oregon.

Sanyo North America Corp. is launching construction of an $80 million factory that will initially employ 200 people making ingots and wafers for solar cells. Sanyo's ceremony precedes the opening Friday of SolarWorld's $440 million plant in Hillsboro, which employs 250 so far.

Sanyo's plant will be located in the Salem Renewable Energy and Technology Park, an 80-acre spread designed to attract more green companies. It's scheduled to open next October.

"We look at Sanyo as our Nordstrom, as our anchor tenant," said Rick Scott, Salem urban development director, noting that a couple of other companies have expressed interest. "We're planning to implement our same strategy that we did with Sanyo, which is a full-court press."

Like other Oregon cities, Salem has taken some economic hits lately, losing about 200 jobs with closures of a paper-cutting plant and a seafood processor. Tuesday's announcement that Daimler's Portland truck plant would close followed a state report Monday chronicling losses of thousands of Oregon manufacturing jobs.

Sanyo executives declined comment in advance of today's groundbreaking, which Gov. Ted Kulongoski plans to attend. Kazuhiko Suruta, executive vice president of Japanese parent company Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd., will be among dignitaries shoveling dirt.

Also this week, Portland General Electric unveiled a Portland project billed as the Northwest's largest solar installation. Solar panels atop ProLogis warehouse rooftops are expected to generate enough electricity for about 715 homes.

Sanyo's construction, managed by Portland's InSpec Group, has already begun on 861,000-square-foot Salem plant. The factory has room to expand on its 20-acre site, as well as first rights to adjacent land.

Linda Norris, Salem city manager, said competition to lure Sanyo was intense as the company considered other sites within Oregon and beyond. Negotiations intensified in February and extended into September.

Sanyo is likely eligible for state tax credits exceeding $200,000 per job, in addition to local-government carrots. Salem officials say that's worth it.
"If you're going to compete globally, you have to compete with other countries -- and in this case, other states -- that also are offering a variety of incentives," Scott said. "We believe that in the long-term, they will produce a lot more benefit than $200,000 per employee."


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