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Published: Saturday, 2/27/2010

Loans power growth, local solar firms say

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Chief executives from two local solar panel companies thanked Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Huntington Bank for lending their firms millions in cash.

Xunlight Corp.'s Xunming Deng and Willard & Kelsey Solar Group LLC's Michael Cicak joined Mr. Strickland, Huntington Bank President Stephen Steinour, and others on stage yesterday for a public relations event at the University of Toledo's Scott Park Campus of Energy and Innovation.

With dozens of local government officials, UT employees, alternative-energy company executives, and Huntington representatives on hand, the gathering touted the ongoing small- business loan program between Huntington and the state, as well as the state's commitment to supporting Toledo's homegrown solar companies.

Together, Xunlight and Willard & Kelsey received about $5.5 million from the Ohio-Huntington Bank program, which Mr. Steinour said has supplied $450 million in 3,000 loans made to Ohio businesses in the last year.

Mr. Deng, Xunlight's founder and CEO, said $2 million of a $3 million loan his firm received from the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority last summer was guaranteed by Huntington. That money was supplemented with $7 million in loans from the Ohio Department of Development for Xunlight to develop and manufacture its thin-film, flexible solar panels.

Mr. Deng said the loans helped Xunlight begin to produce its panels, some of which he said were recently installed to supply electricity for the only solar-powered billboard in New York's Times Square.

"We have been signing up large purchase orders and long-term agreements to take the products from our current production ramp-up," said Mr. Deng.

Xunlight has about 120 employees, but will look to add more once it receives necessary certification of its products from Underwriters Laboratories this spring.

Mr. Cicak, CEO of Willard & Kelsey, said his Perrysburg company has 60 employees and will add 140 more by July.

By then, he said, his plant will be able to produce panels to provide 80 megawatts of energy per year.

He said his firm received a $3.5 million loan from Huntington Bank in addition to a $5 million loan from the state's Department of Development and a $10 million competitive loan from the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority.

Contact Joe Vardon at:

jvardon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6559.



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