Sunday, March 13, 2011

Green in Tennessee

Green jobs take root in Tennessee

Engineer Joy Stout holds a piece of polysilicon, which is the cornerstone material for solar cells. Hemlock Semiconductor, which will produce polysilicon at its new plant, will be hiring in the Clarksville, Tenn., area. / JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN

Mar. 13, 2011 - Twenty years ago, Ty Koelker moved from Maryland to Kentucky to work in the South's burgeoning automotive industry.

Working mostly for supplier companies, the manufacturing engineer eventually worked his way up to plant manager at a fabrication and stamping facility near Nashville.

Now, he sees this area at another turning point as clean-energy initiatives, including two major solar companies, start to take hold and offer the prospect of good-paying jobs for years to come.

"I determined there were the same opportunities in solar as when I came south for the auto industry," Koelker said.

A year ago, he left his automotive career behind to work for Hemlock Semiconductor in Clarksville, Tenn., as a cross-functional team leader. The Hemlock, Mich.-based manufacturer is creating 500 jobs at its facility there — where it will produce polysilicon used to make solar cells that will go into solar panels to produce clean electrical power. {continued}

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