What was until recently the rusting hulk of a 1950’s U.S. Steel plant in rural Pennsylvania is alive and green as a new facility that makes giant windmill components.
It is now owned by the Spanish company Gamesa Energy, which has invested $34 million to build three factories for its wind turbines and generators.
The Fairless Hills energy manufacturer, at the 2200-acre Keystone Industrial Port Complex, just north of Philadelphia, is one of two green industries that have taken up residence and provided much-need jobs for Pennsylvanians, who have been hard-hit by the recession.
In February, Pennsylvania reported an 8.9 percent unemployment rate and lost 16,000 jobs. However, the state added 1,600 manufacturing jobs.
Another start-up on the site is A.E. Polysilicon of Chatham, New Jersey, which will make material that goes inside of solar panels: Its goal is to continue expanding and provide 6,000 new jobs over the next five years.
What did it take to get these companies to this site? Lots of incentives from the state of Pennsylvania, including some $12 million in loans, grants and tax breaks.
In addition, neither of the two companies will pay property taxes until 2018. Polysilicon is also the beneficiary of a $45 million federal renewable energy tax credit.
The competition is stiff on more than one front. For instance, most old factories are torn down, so the stock of abandoned facilities is in short supply. More acute is the drive to attract manufacturers to take root in the States.
“You have 50 states not only competing against each other in energy manufacturing,” said Scott Paul, from the Alliance for American Manufacturing. “They are competing against China, and the incentives that China can provide far exceed what any state can match.”