By JACK WEATHERLY
Seraphim Solar Manufacturing USA has announced that it will conduct a trial operation of a $50 million solar-panel plant in Jackson and then begin “formal operation” in November.
It made no mention in its release on Friday that Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber had announced in July that the city is “partnering’ with the Chinese company.
City spokeswoman Shelia Byrd said at the time that the city was in final negotiations with the firm, which also stands to get incentives from the Mississippi Development Authority.
Byrd said this week that “we are still working on an agreement.”
The plant will be the firm’s first U.S. factory and would employ up to 250 over the next five years, according to Seraphim.
The proposed site for the plant, at 3111 Lawson St., may qualify for a New Market Tax Credit, which would not be from the state or city, but from the federal government through qualified private firms.
Alternative-energy expert Lindsay Leveen said previously that the credit would amount to 37 percent of the cost.
California-based Leveen said that the Seraphim jobs will not be high-paying. The company said initially that the annual payroll would eventually rise to $7.3 million. Divided equally among 250 workers, that would be $29,200 a year, though it was not clear whether the payroll included management positions.
“Building this plant in the U.S. is one of many steps to Seraphim’s aggressive global strategy,” said Justin Xi, the company’s global executive general manager.
Mississippi has had a struggle with its ventures in solar manufacturing.
The Twin Creeks Technologies plant in Senatobia, into which the MDA invested $27 million, collapsed without creating a marketable product.
It blamed the failure in part because of China’s dumping of solar panels on the U.S. market.
The MDA lent $75 million to Stion Corp. to set up a factory in Hattiesburg, which also got property tax breaks worth more than $1.5 million year, but at last accounting it was far from reaching the creation of 1,000 jobs it promised.
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