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Published: Saturday, 3/3/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Solar firm gets more time to file report

State gives Willard & Kelsey 2-month extension

BY KRIS TURNER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

The Ohio Department of Development has granted Willard & Kelsey Solar Group two extra months to submit a progress report on state-funded activities at the solar-panel manufacturer.

The report, originally due to the state March 1, now must be submitted by May 1. It will be used by the state to determine if the troubled company is still in compliance with state loan and grant agreements.

Willard & Kelsey is not alone; the state extended the deadlines for more than 800 businesses.

The delay was granted by the state to ensure it reached out to the right companies, department spokesman Katie Sabatino wrote in an email.

"The department was doing its due diligence to ensure only companies that were at the end of their term periods received reminder letters," she said. "There have been slight delays in the past for various administrative reasons. This is not common -- but should not be considered out of the ordinary."

Willard & Kelsey, a Perrysburg solar panel manufacturer, is partially funded by a $5 million loan from the state Office of Air Quality Development Authority and a $5 million loan and $500,000 grant from the Department of Development.

The start-up began operations in 2008. Company officials have previously made sweeping claims about how many people the 262,000- square-foot plant along State Rt. 25 could employ. In February, 2011, the company said it planned to have 250 employees by the end of 2011.

But at the start of 2012, the company had fewer than 90 employees and laid off about 40 of them.

State representatives visited Willard & Kelsey Feb. 3 to discuss the company's financial status. Michael Cicak, chief executive officer and chairman of the board, cited changes to the production line as the cause of the layoffs. He did not return messages left by The Blade on Friday.

The state did not inspect the production line during its visit because the purpose of the meeting was to learn the company's financial status, Ms. Sabatino said. If problems at Willard & Kelsey continue, the state could arrange another visit.

Contact Kris Turner at: kturner@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.



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