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$900M solar component factory to add 1,100 clean energy jobs in Michigan

poly storace
The new factory planned by Solar Technology, a wholly owned subsidiary of Corning Inc., will be built in Richland Township next to Hemlock Semiconductor. HSC is the largest producer in the U.S. of hyperpure polysilicon, and the new facility will enable the material to be made into solar components. (Courtesy photo)
  • A new subsidiary of Corning Inc. is building a 1-million-square foot solar component factory west of Saginaw
  • The new plant will create a semiconductor and solar hub with nearby Hemlock Semiconductor
  • About 1,100 jobs are forecast at the factory, with starting pay at $21 per hour

A factory Corning Inc. plans to build west of Saginaw will fill a gap in the U.S. solar energy supply chain, state officials said Tuesday as they approved $109 million in subsidies for the $900 million project.

Corning subsidiary Solar Technology LLC — a company formed in 2023 and registered in Michigan in January — plans to build the 1-million-square-foot assembly plant next to Hemlock Semiconductor.


When completed in 2028, the Richland Township factory will be expected to employ over 1,100 people making solar components, a move that could advance Michigan’s efforts to attract more clean energy projects to the state.


“This is one of the largest job creation projects that we’ve seen in a generation,” said JoAnn Crary, president of local economic development office Saginaw Future Inc. “We believe that the influx of jobs will result in significant spin-off investment.”

New York-based Corning [NYSE: GLW] is an 80% owner of Hemlock Semiconductor, the largest U.S. maker of hyperpure polysilicon. The material is the building block for semiconductors and silicon chips, the so-called “brains” for electronics. One out of every three electronic devices globally contain Hemlock-made polysilicon, Corning says on its website.

Entrance sign to the DOW Industrial Complex industrial center
The $900 assembly factory will add 1,100 jobs to the Corning footprint in mid-Michigan. Michigan incentives will fund more than $100 million of the project. (Lost_in_the_Midwest /

Polysilicon also is used in solar energy projects, such as panels used in the production of sun-powered energy. 

Solar demand is high after the $750 billion 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, which designated federal funding to jumpstart investments to meet U.S. clean energy goals. 

In 2023, the nation added 35 percent more solar capacity than a year earlier, according to a report in Electrek, and by 2050 solar is expected to be the largest source of generating capacity on the nation’s power grid.

However, 2024 is expected to be a “make or break” year for solar, due in part to shortages in domestic solar manufacturing options, E&E News reports.

Components from the new Michigan factory “will be shipped to global locations with an expectation that this will continue to become a more domestic manufacturing base, both for Corning and the industry,” Josh Hundt, chief projects officer for the Michigan Economic Development Corp (MEDC), said Tuesday during a media briefing.

The Michigan Strategic Fund, the public funding arm of the MEDC, unanimously approved state funding for the project Tuesday.

The money will come from the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve, or SOAR, fund that the Legislature established in late 2021 to compete for large-scale development projects. 

The funding includes: 

  • $68 million from the Critical Industry Program
  • $29 million from the Strategic Site Readiness Program to Richland Township and surrounding municipalities to make water, wastewater and road upgrades. 
  • $12.2 million in waived state taxes on the factory’s manufacturing equipment

Other subsidies for the project include a 12-year property tax abatement from Richland Township, on the factory’s estimated value of $375 million. Saginaw County also is seeking a grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation; details on that request were unavailable from MDOT on Tuesday. 

“This new solar technology project takes advantage of market demand and government support both at the federal and local levels,” said Scott Forester, a division vice president at Corning who is responsible for speciality materials. Information on federal subsidies for the Corning project was not available on Tuesday.

With the award for the new factory, the balance of the SOAR fund stands at $454.1 million, MEDC spokesperson Otie McKinley said. 

The SOAR awards are the second so-called transformational incentive awards to Corning in Saginaw County.

In 2022, Hemlock Semiconductor started a $375 million expansion in Saginaw County’s Thomas Township, in part to boost production to meet solar demand. 


That expansion was funded in part with a $27 million grant to the township from the Strategic Site Readiness Program to increase sewer capacity.

$21-an-hour starting wage

Jobs at the new factory will start at $21 per hour, or $43,680 per year, about $2 per hour more than the area around Saginaw County. The overall average wage is expected to be $28 per hour, or $58,240 per year.

The unemployment rate in Saginaw County was 4.6 percent in December, compared to Michigan’s 4.3 percent at the same time. The county’s jobless rate at the end of 2023 was roughly the same as in the months just before the pandemic.

Despite the level of what economists call full employment, the area is considered “distressed” as measured by the number of adults aged 25 to 54 with jobs, according to data from the Kalamazoo-based W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

According to a 2023 report, clean energy businesses in Michigan added about 5,400 workers in 2022, bringing the total to 123,983, or about 2.5 percent of the state’s labor force.

Editor note: This story was updated on Feb. 29, 2024, to correct the SOAR balance after the award to Corning.

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