Tag Archives: First Solar

First Solar, Mesa

First Solar To Open Manufacturing Plant In Mesa

First Solar is moving to Mesa after consolidating its Vietnam manufacturing plant. The First Solar manufacturing plant will bring approximately 1,200 jobs to Mesa. The plant is currently in its construction phase and the estimated completion for the manufacturing plant’s first phase will be in the third quarter of 2012.

First Solar’s Reciprocal Benefits For Company and Community

Greater Phoenix Economic Council president and CEO Barry Broome is excited to bring another big name in solar technology and manufacturing to the Valley.

“The Greater Phoenix region is in a prime position to capitalize on this momentum,” Broome says. “Already home to First Solar’s headquarters in addition to its Mesa manufacturing facility, the region is also home to nearly one dozen solar and renewable energy or clean technology companies such as Suntech Power Holdings, Power-One, Gestamp Solar Steel, Rioglass Solar, Clear Energy, Maxwell Technologies and hundreds more within their supply chains.”

The United States Southwest holds the largest global manufacturing opportunity for solar, clean and renewable technologies. Broome says that First Solar’s choice to manufacture in Mesa will not only be beneficial for the company by being able to take advantage of renewable and sustainable tax credit program, but for the Arizona economy by creating solar technology careers.

University and community college students in the Valley will have an advantage for finding careers in solar technology and engineering when they complete their programs.

“Greater Phoenix turns out superb engineering talent through its universities and technical talent through its community college system,” Broome says. “Mesa was selected over Vietnam because of the [full pallet of renewable resources] that are produced in the East Valley, the leadership of the Mayor of Mesa, Scott Smith and the opportunity that has been built around the U.S. market.”

One advantage for First Solar manufacturing in the United States is the increase for efficiency and that of supply chains in relation to other parts of the country.

“Here in Arizona we have the chance to be an international leader in very important technology,” Broome says. “First Solar, Suntech and all these companies are a clear sign that [solar] is the technology of the future and we have to be strong and focused on this success.

“As illustrated today by First Solar’s decision to embrace Mesa over a low-cost overseas market, we can and will dominate the solar renewable energy and clean technology market.”

 

NAIOP Roundtable 2011 - AZRE Magazine September/October 2011

NAIOP Roundtable 2011

NAIOP Roundtable 2011

The commercial real estate industry is clearly recovering. Companies are absorbing vacant space, build-to-suit development is active and abundant capital is pursuing core real estate. The key question remains, however, how do we compare with the other major markets when it comes to job and population growth?
In short, when will the market justify new development and how will the state and our local commercial real estate industry assist in this effort? To be sure, the future remains bright in Arizona but the recovery will last longer before the next boom.

— Mike Haenel


NAIOP Roundtable Participants KeyNAIOP Roundtable - AZRE Magazine September/October 2011

Roundtable Participants

 

1 — SB: Scott Bjerk
President
Bjerk Builders, Inc.

2 — MC: Megan Creecy
Leasing and Development Manager
EJM Development Co.

8 — JD: John DiVall
Senior VP
Liberty Property Trust

MH: Mike Haenel
Executive VP, Industrial Group
Cassidy Turley BRE Commercial
Chairman Profile

6 — TH: Todd Holzer
VP of Development
Ryan Companies US

5 — KM: Keaton Merrell
Principal
Legacy Capital Advisors

7 — BM: Bob Mulhern
Managing Director Greater Phoenix
Colliers International

3 — DW: Deron Webb
Managing Principal
Wentworth Webb & Postal

4 — CW: Clay Wells
Director, Business Development
McShane Construction Co.


Q: What is different in July 2011 in our local commercial real estate industry than a year ago?

BM: The short answer is that the market is stronger, but still burdened by vacancy rates that are high by historical standards, despite being lower than recent peaks. What is decidedly different, however, is that the outlook is considerably brighter than it was a year ago.

Last year at this time, uncertainty was the overriding theme and it plagued the market. The industrial market had posted just one quarter of positive absorption, and it was unclear whether that was a one-time burst in activity or a sign that tenants were more optimistic and the industrial market was beginning to turn a corner. Now we can see that tenant demand for industrial space has been sustained for more than a year, vacancy is tightening, and rents are stabilizing. We are also seeing headline-making announcements from companies such as Amazon and First Solar that not only improve the numbers, but also renew confidence in the market as a whole.

The office market has been slower to bounce back, but it is far more stable today than it was a year ago. A year ago, we were averaging negative net absorption of more than 500,000 SF per quarter, and the vacancy rate was shooting higher. While absorption has been mixed in recent quarters — up one quarter, down the next — the overall vacancy trend is essentially flat. The market hasn’t necessarily started to improve, but it’s no longer in free fall. We’re forecasting slightly positive absorption in the second half of 2011 and then positive absorption of nearly 1 MSF in 2012. We think rents will likely tick lower through the remainder of this year, because the high availability of space will continue to create competition in the marketplace.

MC: Activity is up, but it is still the quintessential “tale of two tenants.” National companies with 200,000 SF+ warehouse requirements are in the market. And, there are definitely more of those types of requirements (including build-to-suits) in the market today than there were last year at this time.

When looking, however, at say deals in the 5,000 SF to 20,000 SF range, there has been an increase in activity, but the regional and local tenants who comprise a large portion of that market segment are still facing a lot of challenges, such as difficulty obtaining financing, and economic uncertainty. These challenges result in a constraint on their ability to expand and the lack of confidence needed to make long term real estate decisions, which is why we are still seeing a number of these tenants in the smaller size ranges wanting only short-term extensions in their current spaces.

TH: I sense that we are now a local real estate industry made up of survivors. The attrition of firms is over for the most part. Those remaining have right sized for this “new normal” that we find ourselves in. Companies in our business have had to make changes in their business plans and doing activities that they did not anticipate 4 to 5 years ago. I think that this transformation has completed where a year ago it was still finding itself.

Q: How would you compare our Metro Phoenix commercial real state market to other major markets throughout the Western U.S.?

BM: At present, the characteristic that best describes the Phoenix commercial real estate market is the vacancy rate, which is among the highest, if not the highest of the major markets in the Western U.S. In the period immediately preceding the recession, development in Phoenix was fairly active, and when the economy cratered and companies slashed payrolls, there was a significant supply/demand imbalance.

The difference between Phoenix and the major California markets — where employment losses were nearly as dramatic as losses here — is that those markets didn’t have nearly as much speculative construction in the pipeline. As a result, vacancies rose in California, but not to the heights that they rose in Phoenix.

The other state that makes for an interesting comparison is Texas, where development has historically been quite active — just like Phoenix. The primary difference between Phoenix and the major Texas markets in the recession and thus far in the recovery is that the Texas markets weren’t hit nearly as hard by job losses during the downturn and the state has led the way with job gains during the recovery.

Looking ahead, the picture brightens significantly. Most forecasts call for Phoenix to rebound favorably once the economic recovery really gains traction nationally. Long-term forecasts call for annual population and employment gains in the 2.5% range, which should be similar to the major Texas markets and far outpace the California markets. This anticipated expansion is the primary source of optimism in the Phoenix market — now we’re just waiting for it to happen.

CW: The Metro Phoenix commercial real estate market has actually fared no worse or better than the other major Western U.S. markets. Retail and office continue to struggle in most markets while industrial vacancies for building over 500,000 SF have started to decrease. Recently a 500,000 SF speculative building broke ground in the Inland Empire and I believe if the economy stays as is we will see a speculative industrial building in Phoenix breaking ground by 3Q 2012. Where the Phoenix market differs from the rest of the Western U.S., with the exception of Las Vegas, is the residential real estate market. Metro Phoenix was too dependent on the residential construction market for creating jobs.

The reason this is so important until we create new jobs to replace these lost jobs, the retail and office sectors will continue to be slow to recover. People have to have a job, which allows them to have diposable income to spend at stores creating a need for new retailers. The same can be said for the office market. Until new companies locate to Metro Phoenix or are created here the need for office space will remain depressed. Most activity we are seeing in the office market are new investors coming to Metro Phoenix and buying distressed properties at a discount. This allows them to quote reduced rents forcing a downward pressure on existing landlords, who must rent space at a loss or lose a tenant. Office markets in some cities that have a more diverse economic base are recovering at a better pace than Metro Phoenix.

MC: While there has been increased activity across the Western U.S., the divergence is in the stage of recovery in primary markets such as the Inland Empire, vs. secondary markets like Phoenix.

The Inland Empire, for example, is one of the strongest industrial markets in the country with vacancy at 6.3%, which is the lowest vacancy rate in 14 quarters. By comparison, Phoenix’s Q2 2011 industrial vacancy rate was 13.9%, which was our 5th consecutive quarterly decline. But, I would say that the steady decline in vacancy we are experiencing here in Phoenix is a positive indicator, and it is only a matter of time before our recovery picks up speed.

Arizona Forward, State Park Issues

Arizona Forward Enhances Awareness of Arizona’s Park Issues

Arizona Forward Enhances Awareness of Arizona’s Park Issues

Arizonans value their parks and open space, consistently ranking them as key quality of life indicators. A recent survey conducted of residents statewide shows that 87 percent visit a park or recreation area at least once a year, with 23 percent doing so on a weekly basis. In addition, parks and open spaces create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.

Multiple land ownerships and funding mechanisms have produced parks and open space issues that are complex, confusing and sometimes controversial. In fact, the telephone survey conducted by WestGroup Research further revealed that most residents (80 percent) rate their knowledge of how state and local parks are funded as very low or in the middle range. Meanwhile, a depressed economy and recession has impacted parks negatively at every jurisdictional level from federal and state to county and municipal governments.

Recognizing the need for public education on the subject of parks and open space issues, Arizona Forward, a new statewide environmental/business coalition launched by Valley Forward earlier this year, developed a comprehensive report to provide unbiased facts, background information and answers to frequently asked questions about state and federal lands as well as county and municipal parks.

Designed to enhance awareness of and interest in solving Arizona’s parks issues, the primer is among Arizona Forward’s first projects towards its mission to promote cooperative efforts to improve the livability, sustainability and economic vitality of cities and towns across Arizona. Readers can sort out how much open space is available in the state, who is responsible for it and the challenges facing various jurisdictions of government. The user-friendly reference guide is described as ‘parks and open space 101’ and can be downloaded at arizonaforward.org.

While the primer doesn’t take a formal position on how to solve funding issues relating to parks, it communicates the economic impact of recreational and open space amenities and why Arizonans should care about these natural resources.

Charter members of Arizona Forward include: Arizona Community Foundation, First Solar, Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold, National Bank of Arizona, Solon Corporation, Sundt Construction, The Nature Conservancy, Total Transit and Wells Fargo.

For more information about Arizona Forward, visit arizonaforward.org.

First Solar

First Solar and Mesa Proving Grounds: East Valley Center for Economic Growth

CoreNet Global brought together panelists who were instrumental in the planning that led to First Solar’s decision to locate their second US manufacturing facility in the City of Mesa. On March 17, 2011, First Solar announced it was acquiring 135 acres within the Mesa Proving Grounds to build the first phase of a $300 million solar module fabrication plant, their second facility in the U.S. To meet growing demand for photovoltaic solar panels, First Solar needed construction underway in 2011, with four manufacturing lines in production by late 2012.

CoreNet Global
Tues June 7, 2011, Phoenix Country Club
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Moderator:
Karrin Kunasek Taylor, DMB, Exec. VP, Chief Entitlements Officer

Panelists:
Steve Krum, First Solar, Director of Communications
Barry Broome, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, CEO& President
Mayor Scott Smith, City of Mesa

Background: In 2006, DMB bought 3,200 acres of the former 5,000-acre General Motors Desert Proving Grounds located in the City of Mesa and previously used for hot weather vehicle testing. DMB’s acreage became the Mesa Proving Grounds: the last significant, privately-owned contiguous land holding in Metro Phoenix’s southeast Valley. The City of Mesa has actively pursued employers for their Gateway Planning Area, which includes the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, ASU Polytechnic campus, and major freeway access.

Kunasek-Taylor: Mesa Proving Grounds is unique… it is a strategic site east of the Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport which offers three runways that can land any aircraft in the world. This airport is one of the priorities of the Federal Aviation Authority for future funding. The adjacent ASU campus now has 10,000 students and plans for growth up to 30,000 students. 11% of the jobs in Metro Phoenix are in the Southeast Valley, and ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation) will soon award the contract for first phase of construction connecting the 202 freeway to the airport. Zoning for Mesa Proving Grounds future development was based upon dividing the 3,200 acres into nine development unit plans, with pre-approved densities and uses. First Solar announced in the fall of 2010 that it was hunting for new manufacturing space capable of accommodating 5,000 employees.

Krum: Why was Mesa selected, when a solar panel manufacturing facility can be located anywhere since the manufacturing process doesn’t need sun? First Solar needed immediate availability of land and a quality workforce. There was a sense of urgency and commitment by Barry Broome of GPEC, the leadership of the City of Mesa and its economic development team, and DMB had a fantastic master plan for the Mesa Proving Grounds. With manufacturing facilities around the world, First Solar has choices. But it was very clear that the City of Mesa wanted First Solar. A lot of people here were trying to help us achieve our vision. Our fastest growing market right now is the Southwestern United States. The Agua Caliente project (290 megawatt solar photovoltaic generating facility) in Yuma County, southwestern Arizona. — we want to be in close proximity to projects like that. Pacific Gas & Electric has contracted to purchase Agua Caliente’s output for 25 years. There will be more projects like this to serve California, since utilities there have to meet California requirements for alternative energy sources.

Broome: In 2007 we saw the unprecedented spike in solar — we saw an incredible opportunity for Arizona. We went after every German solar company, but lost them (locating) to states like Oregon, New Mexico, Texas and California. It’s a capital intensive industry: we’ve got to help them recover their capital, help lower their operating environmental over 10-15 years, and we’ve got to deliver talent. Most of the guys who run solar companies are ex-Intel and Motorola guys. So we put together a platform that delivered engineering, real estate, and demand. On a policy level, we removed personal property taxes for a ten year period. With this program, the state of Arizona and the city of Mesa will make millions of dollars of corporate taxes in the coming years. There are many related solar supply chain companies coming into this market – we expect to announce another 16 solar related companies in the coming 18 months. The price of solar electric power will continue dropping, as technology improves. It was 28¢/kwh; not it’s down to 14¢/kwh, and it will go lower. This means more demand for solar.

Smith: The First Solar project is a great example of how economic development should work. Companies go to places where they can succeed. Tax policy is not an end-all. State policy has to be in place. Business attraction tools are set at the state level. Barry helped create the policy level, which gave us the tools. The three key things that make a deal are infrastructure, people, and real estate. We decided this was a deal that we were not going to lose. We brought out every resource we have in the City of Mesa. We needed 1 million square feet, all entitlements, and fast tract for opening in 2012. We needed the right zoning — that’s why DMB was part of this. I’ve got to give DMB credit for being flexible and having the right vision to make this work. They did not make money on this deal. It was a giant leap of faith to make the community better. The complexity of this type of structure — power, roads, water — Mesa passed a bond issue two years ago that allowed us to accommodate this size of project. We were able to solve the problems and create a environment so that First Solar couldn’t say no. First Solar will succeed, and others will come. This truly was a team success — state, county, city and private companies.

For more information about First Solar and more, visit:

firstsolar.com
dmbmesaprovinggrounds.com
mesaaz.gov
corenetdesertmtn.org

Feature Big Green 2011

Speaker: David Erhart ~ BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

David Erhart, First Solar

David Erhart, First Solar

David Erhart serves as a marketing communications specialist for First Solar, the largest thin film solar company in the world. In this role he oversees a range of activities, including global inquiry handling, brand research, and competitive analysis. Mr. Erhart also manages a cross-functional marketing team whose members are based in the U.S. and Europe. He has participated in
numerous renewable energy conferences and trade shows.

Prior to joining First Solar, Mr. Erhart was an account coordinator for REISTER, one of the largest independent advertising and PR firms in the Western U.S. While there, he supported the company’s largest client, wrote numerous press releases, and conducted in-depth market research and analysis. Mr. Erhart was also employed as a unit marketing director by Chick-fil-A, where he built relationships with businesses, schools, and pharmaceutical representatives in a successful effort to increase location sales and community support.

Mr. Erhart holds a B.S. in marketing from Arizona State’s W. P. Carey School of Business.


Topic: An Arizona Success Story, First Solar: An overview of the world’s largest, thin film solar company.

Conference Speaker
Friday, April 15, 2011
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Room 157

BIG Green Conference 2011

 

 


BIG Green Expo
Friday & Saturday
April 15th & 16th 2011
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.



Sponsors: