Here is an intriguing scenario. A non-U.S. based company receives funds to set up shop in the United States, then acquires the label “Made in USA” and consequently secures customers where U.S.-produced products are a prerequisite.
That is exactly what happened with Suntech Power Holdings Co., a Chinese solar-panel manufacturer. While a number of forces converged that led up to the company locating in Goodyear, Ariz., one component was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding to the tune of $2 million that the company received for locating in the United States.
Because the solar panels produced at the company’s U.S. location fit ARRA’s Buy American provisions, Suntech even received an order to supply 3.4 megawatts worth of solar panels for Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California.
“The ‘Made in America’ label is essential to some of our customers including utility companies,” says John Lefevbre, president of Suntech America.
“We consider the designation a market differential,” Securing customers, explains Barry Broome, CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, is the driver that leads companies to put down roots in the United States.
“For companies like Suntech that deal with new technology the most important consideration is the availability of customers,” Broome says. “For the state the issue is how many jobs will it create.”
Job creation, with a decidedly “Made in America” stamp, flows through the supply chain.
Rioglass Solar, which is based in Madrid, located to Surprise, Ariz., to serve its major customer Abengoa Solar Inc. as the primary mirror manufacturer. Both companies have received ARRA funding.
“Having our product produced in the U.S. is important to our customers,” explains Greg Armstrong, COO of Rioglass. “In fact our first U.S. factory, which opened in 2011, is now producing almost the same amount as our two factories in Spain.” The company received other incentives as well, including a $10 million investment tax credit as a component supplier for the solar industry, which offsets its $47 million investment.