Businessman hopes to bring new light to solar company

A solar manufacturing company that originally planned to create 500 jobs and a multi-million dollar production plant in Saginaw is now relocating to Northern Michigan.

GlobalWatt is moving production of its solar generators to the Village of Copemish in Manistee County, an area where many people are desperate for jobs.

The San Jose-based alternative energy company promised Michigan hundreds of jobs in exchange for tax credits, but the poor economy and competition overseas forced GlobalWatt to shutdown in Saginaw.

In a month, GlobalWatt is expected to be producing solar panels inside Contractors Building Supply Incorporated in Copemish and hiring ten to eleven people.

Allan O'Shea, owner of Contractors Building Supply Incorporated says he doesn't want to see the company leave Michigan so they're working on a partnership.

O'Shea says, "I saw a few struggles taking place with the company, not ramping up like they wanted to. You have the glut solar product dumping from China, so GlobalWatt was struggling."

The large facility in Saginaw cost thousands of dollars a month, and with the solar industry changing drastically it needed a solution.

O'Shea says, "I saw their position get more tenuous. I said what are you going to do? They said either one, go back to California, go to Texas, or look for a partnership."

Not everyone thinks GlobalWatt is in Michigan for the right reasons, Michael LaFaive, director of the watchdog group Mackinac Center for Public Policy says he found discrepancies on applications the company filled out to get state tax credits when they first relocated to Saginaw.

LaFaive says, "We found misrepresentations in two GlobalWatt applications to the state for special incentive treatment. The incentives would garner them a refundable tax credit or subsidy and other goodies whose value totaled $42 million."

To date, GlobalWatt has not received any money from the state because it never produced enough jobs to receive the money.

For a link to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy's findings click here.