Nordex USA, Inc., a leading manufacturer of utility-scale wind turbines, today held a groundbreaking celebration at the construction site of its $100 million manufacturing facility in Jonesboro, Arkansas. At the event, management presented its vision for a renewable energy future, as well as details on plans to hire 700 people by 2014. Leaders from government, business and the community attended the celebration, expressing hope for the revitalization of American manufacturing and the birth of a new industry in Arkansas.
“I am pleased that Nordex has chosen Arkansas for its manufac-turing center,” Governor Mike Beebe said. “Our success in the clean-energy economy is exciting, and having a global wind-energy company, like Nordex, in the Natural State helps to pro-mote sustainability, alternative-energy development, and environ-mentally-friendly practices.”
The first phase of construction began at the 187-acre site in Craighead Technology Park in late July. Nordex has been unde-terred in its plans to build and hire. “We are positioning ourselves for the market surge around the corner,” said Ralf Sigrist, Presi-dent and CEO of Nordex USA, based in Chicago. “We are abso-lutely confident that the US wind market will be the biggest in the world. ‘Made-in-Arkansas’ is at the core of our strategy to win.” Production is scheduled to begin in mid 2010.
Nordex is already seeing a pick up in the market. It recently com-pleted the 62.5 megawatt “Highland” wind farm in Pennsylvania and is working on further projects. Parent company Nordex AG at-tributes much of its profit growth to the US market. The US ac-counted for 12 percent of the company’s global sales, up from roughly one percent in the previous year. “I repeatedly sense that nowhere is the renewable energy vision stronger than in the United States,” remarked Thomas Richterich, CEO of Nordex AG. “And when America catches a vision, the whole world changes.”
A windfall of jobs
At the ceremony, management gave an update on the hiring schedule. “We expect to be producing up to 300 wind turbines a year by 2014,” said Joe Brenner, VP of Production in Jonesboro. “It will take a highly-skilled, well-trained workforce of around 700 people to make that happen. Right now we have five people and a construction zone. So we’re looking at a strong ramp-up and an aggressive recruiting and training program.”
Hiring will span about four years. Nordex plans to locally employ close to 100 people by the end of 2010, as it begins ramping up nacelle assembly, in the areas of operations, office support, supply management, production engineering, quality assurance and more. Recruiting will begin in January followed by hiring in the spring. The nacelle workforce will gradually reach up to 240 people as the plant approaches full capacity over the next two and a half years. Recruiting and hiring will follow a similar pattern for the rotor blade facility, which will be built in phase two of the construction. Job openings will be posted on the company’s website at www.nordex-online.com, with additional details to come.
Besides direct hires, Nordex is also creating jobs through the con-tracting of services. For example, Nordex has contracted with the construction firm, H&M Company, Inc. of Jackson, Tennessee, which is dedicating between 250 and 300 workers to the construction project.
Finally, the company is localizing its supply chain. “We want to foster a neighborhood of local wind players around Jonesboro,” said Brenner. “Logistically, it’s more efficient to share a backyard than to ship large components cross-country.”
The Jonesboro operation will be an original equipment manufac-turer (OEM) producing one of the largest classes of wind turbines in the world, the 2.5 megawatt N90 and N100. Each of these util-ity-scale turbines is capable of generating enough renewable en-ergy to power about 700 American homes. In 2000, Nordex built the first turbine this large and has the longest track record for reli-ability in the multi-megawatt class. The $40 million nacelle assembly plant will have 115,000 square feet of production space, 10,000 square feet for a Training Academy and 35,000 square feet of office space. The $60 million rotor blade facility is then expected to begin production in late 2012.
Heating and cooling at the plant will be powered entirely by geo-thermal energy. “The investment will pay for itself within 12 years,” said Sigrist, “and will save considerable amounts over the long run. Just as renewable energy will do for all of America. The investment pays off.”