Solar company to open manufacturing plant in Mississippi

One of the very first things the Mississippi legislature did when it convened this week was to pass a stimulus bill for solar manufacturer Stion so it could open a new plant in Hattiesburg.

The bill, granting Stion Solar Panels a $75 million loan at a cost of $100,000 to the government, passed 117 to two in the house and unanimously in the senate.

Stion, a California-based company, will build its new plant in Hattiesburg and expects to employ more than 1,000 new workers there within the next six years, according to a press release.

Stion is a start-up solar panel manufacturer, said spokesman Frank Yang. It just started about three years ago and has about 115 employees right now—all in California.

“We expect to be over 300 by next year,” Yang said. “We’ll mostly be hiring in the production side.”

The company has spent its first two years focusing on producing high-quality solar panels and getting its product ready for market and has just within the last year shifted its focus to mass production, Yang said.

Mississippi had a lot to offer when the company began looking for a place to locate its new production facility. The state as offered a lot of financial incentives, Yang said. The overwhelming approval for the government loan was just the icing on the cake.

Along with the allure that the Mississippi government has for the solar manufacturer, the state itself is a good place to set up shop, Yang said.

Land is more affordable, and construction costs are lower than they typically are in California.

The average wages are much lower there than they are in California, Yang said. There’s also a strong labor pool from which to draw.

“The workforce there and the training opportunities are strong,” Yang said. “The quality that exists there and the trainability of the workforce proved to be a good convergence of resources for us.”

Mississippi legislators said they voted in favor of the project because they saw the potential for it to become a major economic boost, good for employment and potentially drawing more clean energy industry businesses to the area in the future.

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