$1.1 billion First Solar, Inc. facility to open in Lawrence County

First Solar announcement builds excitement
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 3:27 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2022 at 5:39 AM CST
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LAWRENCE Co., Ala. (WAFF) - A new billion-dollar development heading to Lawrence County is expected to bring in hundreds of new jobs.

The announcement made during the Lawrence County Industrial Board meeting on Wednesday brought tears to some eyes.

First Solar Inc., a solar technology manufacturer, plans to invest $1.1 billion in a photovoltaic (PV) solar module manufacturing facility at the Mallard Fox West Industrial Complex.

It’s expected to bring in more than 700 new jobs.

Executive director for the Lawrence County Industrial development board ‚Tabitha Pace says the benefits will stretch across the county.

“I’ve been working here for twenty-four years and this is the first time we’ve been able to announce a project like this,” said Pace, “It will be tremendous for our school systems, our county, the jobs it will create.”

The plant will be one of the largest job providers in the county following its completion. This will be the largest since International Paper closed in 2013.

“We lost a lot of people, a lot of people moved away they went to other places because we didn’t have jobs to fill this economy,” said Jesse Byrd, a man who lost his job at International Paper nine years ago, “And now we have an opportunity to get our economy back, and help the people grow and come back to Lawrence County. And live here where our children can stay and grow a future together.”

Local business owner and President of Lawrence county chamber of commerce Jerry Felks said the addition of the plant will greatly impact local businesses.

“I’m an insurance agent in the county,” he said. “That brings more people to have more houses here. That’s more houses to insure, more cars to insure, and that’s for everyone in the county. I don’t think it singly affects one person, I think it affects the whole entire county as a whole.”

The facility is expected to be commissioned by 2025