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      New facility brings more solar energy jobs up north

      A new solar panel manufacturing facility in Copemish had its grand opening Thursday, bringing more solar energy jobs to Northern Michigan.

      Employees will test and assemble solar panels at the new facility.

      "It means not only jobs, but as our mayor said, they go buy lunch at the grocery store, they eat at the restaurant, they bank at the bank, they buy gas at the gas station," said Allen O'Shea, the President of Contractors Building Supply.

      O'Shea said the village and other northern Michigan communities will benefit from the solar energy jobs his company is creating and the people it will bring to the area.

      This solar panel manufacturing facility will serve as the exclusive manufacturer of Sonali solar panels in the United States.

      The facility has partnered with Sonali Energees, an India-based company, to manufacture and sell solar electric panels in the US and around the world.

      Matt Fontaine, a Contractors Building Supply employee, got a renewable energy certificate from Northwestern Michigan College a couple of years ago.

      "I just decided to get the skills and sooner or later, whether it was going to come up to Traverse or wherever, I was going to have the skills for this growing industry," said Fontaine.

      O'Shea said they should have five or six people hired by the end of the year and the goal is to eventually hire 21 people.

      "Yeah if we get pumping and we start selling these things we're going to need a lot of people," said Fontaine.

      O'Shea said after starting production in September they are one of the only solar panel manufacturing companies in Michigan.

      Contractors Building Supply said they have also worked with Cherryland Electric and Traverse City Light and Power to form the first community solar project in Michigan.

      Find more information about Contractors Building Supply here .