Tag Archives: Saint-Gobain

Funding Startup Companies Jumpstart Economy

GPEC boosts state’s economy by attracting more foreign direct investment

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council’s California 50 program — which aimed to fly 50 Golden State CEOs to Phoenix for an opportunity to tour and explore the region’s business-friendly environment — proved to be so popular that they expanded it to 100 a week after its launch.

But it may be GPEC’s pitch to CEOs even farther away that makes the biggest impact on Arizona’s economy.

“GPEC is focused on a specific region in China, defined by Shanghai and 10 other cities connected by high-speed rail,” says Ron Butler, managing partner at Ernst & Young in Phoenix and co-chair of GPEC’s International Leadership Council. “This region (known as the ‘Z Corridor’) features China’s largest concentration of industries, including solar, medical device, IT, pharmaceuticals, high-tech manufacturing and chemicals. GPEC has made tremendous strides over the past several years in China, particularly with solar and renewable energy companies. Now, the organization is looking to leverage those relationships and expand into other, capital-intensive industries.”

GPEC’s effort is significant, Butler says, because export industries and foreign direct investment (FDI) drive economic growth, create wealth within the region, and tend to be capital-intensive operations that pay higher-than-average wages. Currently, FDI accounts for 73,000 jobs in Arizona and the state saw a 235 percent increase in FDI from 2005-2010, from just over $270 million to more than $904 million.

“By focusing on the Z corridor, a zone known for its solar, high-tech, bio-medical, and chemical industries, GPEC has identified a region that can appreciate what Arizona and — more importantly Arizona workers — can do well,” says Ilya A. Iussa, assistant professor of law at Phoenix School of Law.

But it’s not just investment from China that is giving Arizona an economic boost within the solar and renewable energy industries. In addition to China’s Suntech, the region has seen investments from Spain’s Rioglass and Abengoa, England’s Faist, Germany’s Solon, France’s Saint-Gobain, and Canada’s Cosma International.

“GPEC smartly targets the regions and countries that represent significant growth opportunities, like Canada, China and Western Europe, and works these markets with effective marketing and business development strategies,” Butler says. “Now, with a more concentrated effort underway in China and successful positioning as both a leader in the U.S. solar market and an on-the-record supporter of expanded free trade with China, the Greater Phoenix region is poised for amplified growth in FDI, particularly from China.”

Despite its success, experts says Arizona still has some work to do.

“Our neighboring states and biggest competitors far outrank us in national FDI and export-trade rankings,” Butler says. “California is first for FDI and second for exports, while Texas is second for FDI and first for exports. As such, we must continue evaluating our market for additional FDI and export industry opportunities, and look for ways to increase our competitiveness in these areas.”

Lawmakers have identified one area that needs to be addressed to gain a competitive edge on other states.

“One of the first things we should do is focus on developing a highly educated workforce that will attract companies and businesses looking to move their headquarters,” says Rep. Matt Salmon, R-5. “In addition, it is equally important for us to create a pro-business environment and that comes by reducing harmful regulations that hamper economic growth. Both would increase Arizona’s role in the global economy.”

In order to be increase its global presence and become more competitive with neighboring states like California and Texas, Butler says Arizona must increase the number of export industries operating in the state.

“We can increase our competitiveness for these types of investments,” he says, “with a targeted economic development program for export industries, similar to the Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program (SB1403), which has brought significant investments to the region and the Qualified Facilities Tax Credit (HB2815), which expanded the successful renewable energy program to include qualified, export-based investments.”

Saint-Gobain Solar Mirrors

Saint-Gobain Opens Solar Mirror Manufacturing Plant in Goodyear

Saint-Gobain is opening its first North American solar mirror manufacturing plant in Goodyear, Ariz. The manufacturing plant will benefit both the Arizona environment as well as the economy — expecting to create approximately 50 new jobs.

Saint-Gobain’s manufacturing plant will offer the same quality solar mirror thermal products in North America as it does in Europe, while reducing the carbon footprint of transporting the product over long distances.

“Saint-Gobain Solar is a welcome addition to Greater Phoenix’s growing solar supply chain and further enhances our reputation as the nation’s hotspot for solar and renewable energy,” says Barry Broome, Greater Phoenix Economic Council president and CEO. “Investments from major international corporations like Saint-Gobain exemplify how the Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program is creating quality jobs and building a sustainable economic platform for the region’s future.”

Saint Gobain Solar Mirror

According to Alain Garnier, director of Saint-Gobain Solar North America, local production of solar mirrors in Arizona accelerates the company’s plans for growth in the North American solar market.

“Goodyear offers great local access to the solar concentrator market in the southwest region of the U.S.; it is close to our customers,” Garnier says. “Goodyear also offers a good infrastructure, easy access to highways, and an educated workforce.

“In terms of benefits for Arizona, Saint-Gobain’s expansion to Goodyear means more jobs for Arizonans and helps solidify Arizona as the solar capital of the world.”

What’s unique about this solar mirror manufacturing plant is the testimony it will make about the products it creates. It is going to utilize Saint-Gobain solar mirrors in the building process to produce energy for the manufacturing process.

“We are proud to help lead the drive to save energy not only through responsible manufacturing practices, but also through the development of sustainable, energy-efficient building products and solutions for communities around the world,” Garnier says. “Leading by example, the company will be installing solar photovoltaic systems to offset the site’s energy needs.”

The plant’s projected production capacity corresponds to an annual thermal power output of 300MW, or the equivalent annual energy requirements for an American town of 150,000 inhabitants. It is estimated that each year it will save approximately 320,000 tons of carbon dioxide that would have been generated if using a coal fire method. This is the equivalent of replanting approximately 62,000 acres of forest.

“We are grateful to the state of Arizona, which has adopted a proactive policy to encourage companies from the solar sector to establish manufacturing plants,” adds Garnier. “The Arizona Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program helped to encourage us to select the state for our new plant. Following a tough selection process, we chose to set up our plant in the Phoenix area, in Goodyear, where we are pleased to have been very positively received.”

The facility will supply the domestic solar mirror market and will eventually produce millions of square feet of solar mirrors for thermal power station technologies including, but not limited to, concentration towers and linear Fresnel lenses.

The solar mirror plant is expected to launch in the last quarter of this year and will compliment Saint-Gobain’s current solar mirror production base, which includes a parabolic mirrors plant in Portugal and a flat mirrors facility in Germany.

For more information about Saint-Gobain’s solar mirror manufacturing plant, visit www.Saint-Gobain.com.