United Solar returns grant money

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 9:58 am on Thursday, December 08, 2011

GREENVILLE — United Solar Ovonic has agreed to give back about $11 million of a Community Development Block Grant.

The grant was part of an incentive package to lure the Auburn Hills-based company to Greenville.

The original grant was for $500,000 of infrastructure improvements in the industrial park where United Solar’s two plants are located. Those improvements including construction of Solar Parkway, a city street built specifically around the plants.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) amended the grant amount upward to $22 million to add machinery and equipment purchases for United Solar Ovonic.

“(The grant) was before United Solar Ovonic was in the picture,” Assistant City Manager Cameron Van Wyngarden said.

Currently, Van Wyngarden said the city of Greenville and United Solar Ovonic have used about $11 million of the grant. United Solar Ovonic has invested more than $400 million and created over 400 jobs during the life of the grant.

The MEDC committed all of its grant funds for the year, which began in October. Although it may have other funding sources available, the MEDC is asking for unused grant money to be returned.

The city and United Solar have agreed to reduce figures from $20 million.

Plant Manager Tim Kelly and Plant Controller Norice Thorlund-Rasmussen attended the council meeting to address any questions someone might have.

“We appreciate the administration of the grant from the city of Greenville,” Kelly said.

United Solar is in the process of becoming more competitive and driving forward despite significant challenges, Kelly said.

United Solar Ovonic can seek more grants through MEDC in the future it plans any further expansion.

“I wish you well and hope things improve,” Councilwoman Jean Cunliffe said.

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