Dark economic clouds shadowing businesses worldwide aren’t discouraging solar companies from considering manufacturing in Oregon.
A large European solar company has picked Gresham as its top U.S. candidate while seeking a site for multiple factories that could employ more than 2,000, public officials confirm. The company — which officials decline to name, citing confidentiality agreements — is weighing LSI Corp. property in Gresham against sites in Singapore and another country.
Other solar companies continue to “kick tires” in Hillsboro, where Germany’s SolarWorld recently opened its $440 million factory, says Larry Pederson, the city’s economic development manager.
“If there’s one bright spot in the work we do, it’s alternative energy, including solar,” Pederson says. “We’re going to keep pushing on that sector.”
Oregon, which recently attracted Sanyo Solar to build a Salem factory, stands out for relatively large state subsidies, skilled semiconductor-industry workers and easy access to California, the biggest U.S. solar market. State and local government officials are heavily promoting Oregon as a renewable-energy center, trying to build critical mass in the growing solar and wind sectors.