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Published: Friday, 12/3/2010

Local solar company eyes Tecumseh plant

Willard & Kelsey Solar Group LLC is looking to open a production facility in Tecumseh, Mich., and is considering the former Tecumseh Products Co. plant as a site.

The Perrysburg firm has had “preliminary” talks with city officials during the last six months, but has not submitted specific plans, City Manager Kevin Welch said.

“We'd love to have them come here,” he said.

The solar-panel making startup aims to make rigid cadmium telluride solar modules, but has not started production. Chief Executive Michael Cicak said last month that production is expected to begin in January, and that the company has lined up customers for its panels.

Willard & Kelsey executives could not be reached for comment Friday.

Mr. Welch said Willard & Kelsey is weighing several sites, including the Tecumseh Products plant that closed in 2008. Tecumseh Products rents office space in the 500,000-square-foot facility, which is now owned by Tecumseh Bakery LLC.

Consolidated Biscuit LLC, a McComb, Ohio, company that makes cookies and crackers, announced plans in 2008 to buy the site for $12 million and create 500 jobs. But the deal fell through.

Willard & Kelsey has about 75 Toledo-area employees, and plans to have 100 to 150 workers by the time production starts, Mr. Cicak said last month.

His firm has received at least $16 million in Ohio loans and grants since it was founded in 2008.

Mr. Welch said the city has not offered tax incentives for Willard & Kelsey's possible expansion.

Jim Gartin, president and chief executive of the Lenawee Economic Development Corp., declined to comment on Willard & Kelsey's plans.

— Sheena Harrison

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