Though the wind industry might be hurting in general right now, new facilities related to the development of this form of clean energy continue to pop up around the American countryside. First it was a turbine testing facility in South Carolina and now Nordex, a global builder of wind turbines, just opened the doors to its flagship wind turbine manufacturing plant in Arkansas.
The new 150,000 square foot plant, said to be one of the most modern production facilities in the wind industry, has hired about 54 employees since it broke ground last year. Nordex plans to grow its ranks to nearly 70 in Jonesboro, where the plant is located, and 175 nationally by the end of 2010. It has the potential to create a total of 700 jobs in Jonesboro and 1,000 nationally over the next four years. Being built in a neighboring city, meanwhile, is a $10 million dollar factory by a Nordex parts supplier that will employ 500.
The Nordex Arkansas plant represents a $40 million investment, with a total planned investment of $100 million down the road via further manufacturing capacity being added in a second phase in line with market conditions. Nordex received a federal tax credit for $22.2 million to assist in the plant’s creation. It will specifically build nacelles, housing the engine and other key turbine components and sit high atop the turbine tower, for 2.5 megawatt turbines that belong to Nordex’s new third generation efficiency class turbines.
Also built on site is a training academy that Nordex has a partnership with Arkansas State University with to teach “mechatronic” skills, which combine mechanical and electrical know-how and are specific to wind-turbine manufacturing.
“Today’s grand opening in Jonesboro is a sign of what’s possible as we invest in the country’s growing clean energy manufacturing sector,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a statement. “By bringing together investments from the public and private sector, the Recovery Act helped move this project forward, creating new jobs in Arkansas and strengthening America’s economic competitiveness.”
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