Hemlock Semiconductor arrived on the Clarksville scene with great fanfare, promising a $2.5 billion investment that would create 500 to 900 new jobs manufacturing polycrystalline silicon (polysilicon) for solar panels.
Yesterday, Hemlock announced that they are laying off 400 employees, including 300 in Clarksville, and shutting down the facility before construction is even completed. The company cites an oversupply of polysilicon and "the threat of protective tariffs on its product sold into China." They say they hope to open the plant someday when conditions improve.
The Clarksville Leaf Chronicle has local reaction.
In 2008, the State of Tennessee provided $100 million for infrastructure improvements and more than $11 million in job training grants. Montgomery County purchased the land for the company at a cost of $20 million and gave them 20 years of property tax abatements, according to a previous report.
It's not the desired outcome, but at least some of the money was injected into the local economy, including more than $1 billion invested by Hemlock for construction. And hundreds of workers were trained at a new Austin Peay State University specialized training facility, although it's not clear if those job skills are portable or if there is a demand.
The Nashville Business Journal reports that Hemlock has told local officials they will fulfill their financial obligations, including payment of interest on the bond the county used to purchase the land. Local officials also said the Austin Peay training program will likely continue because it "provides skills applicable to other industries, such as food processing."
Wacker Chemie AG announced in October that they are delaying completion of a similar Bradley County facility for 18 months, also citing market conditions. State and local governments provided $180 million in incentives for the project.
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