SolarWorld reaches 1,000 jobs

SolarWorld reaches 1,000 jobs

By Emma Hall and Ben Jacklet

SolarWorld's five-year expansion has ended on target, with the company's addition of its 1,000th worker in Hillsboro.

German-based SolarWorld bought its Hillsboro location in 2007, where it now produces silicon crystal, solar wafers, photovoltaic cells and solar panels.

The Hillsboro site is now the largest solar manufacturing plant in the U.S.

"Our goals here were straightforward: to tool up annual production capacity to 500 megawatts at the U.S. sites and hire 1,000 workers in Hillsboro by 2011," said Bob Beisner, managing director and vice president of the U.S. operations, in a statement.

Beisner told Oregon Business in June 2008 that SolarWorld chose Oregon over California and other competing states because of the pool of workers, vendors and suppliers "that already understand silicon." The company also received a whopping $20 million Business Energy Tax Credit.

SolarWorld has grown with help from the state of Oregon and partnerships with Oregon universities, as well as with $82.2 million in renewable-energy manufacturing tax credits from the U.S. government. The company has performed well on the German stock market and expanded ambitiously into the U.S. market, but it faces a serious challenge from Chinese solar manufacturers, which benefit from cheap labor and government backing.