February 24, 2018  

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Southern Miss Helps Welcome New Industry to Hattiesburg

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University of Southern Mississippi President Martha Saunders joins in a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday at the Forrest County Industrial Park in welcoming Stion, a California-based clean energy company expanding its operations to Mississippi. (Southern Miss photo by Danny Rawls)

University of Southern Mississippi President Martha Saunders joined local and state public officials, business leaders and citizens Friday, Sept. 16 at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Forrest County Industrial Park in welcoming a new industry to Hattiesburg.

Stion, a clean energy company based in San Jose, Calif. that manufactures high-efficiency, low-cost thin-film solar panels, will locate a manufacturing facility in the Sunbeam building. It is investing $500 million in the project, the first thin-film solar factory in the Southeast, and expects to hire approximately 1,000 workers over the next six years.

“When a company like Stion comes to our town, everybody wins,” said Saunders, who worked with state officials to get company leaders to consider Mississippi as a location for production operations. “Thank you for investing in our community.” 

Gov. Haley Barbour was also on hand to welcome Stion, represented by company CEO Chet Farris. Barbour thanked Farris for choosing Hattiesburg as a site for one of its facilities, and praised the cooperation of public and private officials to make it happen.

“This is a great example of success for Mississippi, one that will pay off for a long time to come,” Barbour said.

Farris said the company’s partnership with the state and the city was a driving force behind the company’s scale-up in manufacturing. “The state’s proactive approach to economic development and its world-class manufacturing workforce have helped accelerate our build-out and strengthen the position of U.S. manufacturing in the global solar industry,” he said.

Barbour cited the importance of having a research university like Southern Miss, with its advances in the field of polymer science and other areas, be part of the equation in bringing industry to the state. “Our universities are gold mines, and we’re doing a better job of mining them,” he said.

Farris concurred, saying that the presence of Southern Miss “was a big part of our decision to choose Hattiesburg.”

At the event, Stion also announced that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has verified that 14.1 percent efficiency for its production-scale thin-film circuits, the highest efficiency every demonstrated for a monolithically integrated thin-film circuit at production scale.

To learn more about Stion, online visit www.stion.com