Ground is broken for new First Solar plant; 500 new jobs projected

WOOD COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - After 18 months of planning, First Solar broke ground Friday on its new Lake Township facility that is expected to create 500 manufacturing jobs.

The $400 million plant will rise on the corner of Tracey Road and Ohio 795, which is about a mile away from the company's Perrysburg Township facility. That facility employs about 750 people.

The new facility will bring 500 manufacturing jobs to Northwest Ohio.

The jobs include anything from maintenance to engineering rolls and the hiring process for has already begun. Jobs are posted on First Solar's website.

The first wave of new employees will be trained at the current facility. This will allow them to have a smooth transition to the new facility once it is ready.

"It's extremely exciting to see a lot of new associates coming to work, putting them in a high tech manufacturing environment," said plant manager Clarence Hertzfeld.

The building will be more than 1 million square feet and First Solar projects the new site will double output capacity.

State and local officials gathered for the groundbreaking on Friday morning and expressed excitement over the project.

"To have a project of this magnitude right here in our district is incredible," said State Rep. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green). "And it goes to show the hard work and the people who came together to really make this happen."

An official opening day has not been decided yet but the company expects the new site to be operational at some point in the fall of next year.

Recent changes in the U.S. corporate tax policy were cited as making the expansion possible. The new plant will triple the company's U.S. output.

In addition to the new jobs, the construction of the plant is expected to create 500 construction-related jobs.

Lake Local Schools also will benefit from the new plant, as it is set to receive $898,000 annually for 15 years, starting in 2020. Penta Career Center will also receive money.

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