There was some good news for the local economy on Thursday, Dec. 5, just in time for Christmas: NC Secretary of Commerce Tony Copeland, speaking at the O. Henry Hotel in Greensboro on behalf of NC Gov. Roy Cooper, announced that Sunlight Batteries – a Greek battery maker – will open a manufacturing plant in east Greensboro, an area of the city where people have been asking for new jobs and more economic development for a long time.

This new project should mean over $10 million in new investment in the county and bring in about 50 new jobs.

According to a press release regarding the announcement, the project was pursued jointly by staff at the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce and the High Point Economic Development Corp (HPEDC).

At the Thursday announcement, David Ramsey, the executive vice president of economic development for the Greensboro Chamber (and also the master of ceremonies at the event), said the company considered Guilford County because of a meeting earlier this year that included High Point EDC Vice President Marshall Yandle. Earlier this year, Yandle and a team of officials from the Economic Development Partnership of NC met with company officials at a trade show in Chicago.

Obviously, the economic development advocates made a positive impression on company officials.

The local big wigs who attended the Dec. 5 announcement at the O. Henry Hotel included Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, High Point Mayor Jay Wagner and Greensboro City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson. There were also other members of the Greensboro City Council, as well as state Sen. Michael Garrett, state Rep. John Faircloth, and state Rep. Jon Hardister.

Even in a bustling economy new jobs are welcome, and this project will create 46 new jobs in Guilford County. That $10 million in investment will help grow the county’s tax base with what will be the company’s first North American operation.

Governor Roy Cooper commented on the good news in a press release.

“Global manufacturers like Sunlight batteries see great potential in North Carolina, from our location to our highly skilled workforce,” the governor said.

Systems Sunlight, the overseas parent company of Sunlight Batteries USA operations, has been specializing in energy storage and industrial batteries manufacturing since 1991.

“In its third decade of sustained growth,” the release reads, “the company today ranks among the world’s leading batteries manufacturers for traction, standby and defense applications, offering innovative solutions based on lead and lithium technology. Sunlight operates three state-of-the-art production facilities in Greece and Italy, implementing best practices in manufacturing, health and safety. With 93 percent of its production … channeled abroad, Sunlight exports to more than 100 countries in all continents. Sunlight Batteries will assemble and distribute lead and lithium batteries at the Greensboro facility.”
At the O. Henry, Copeland said this project is a good match for this state’s assets.

“North Carolina has the fifth largest manufacturing economy in the nation,” Copeland said. “With the largest manufacturing workforce in the Southeast and our transportation infrastructure, international companies like Sunlight Batteries will be very successful here.”

Although wages will vary, the average for all new positions could reach up to about $48,000 a year – close to Guilford County’s average annual wage.

The One North Carolina Fund A has offered a performance-based grant of $100,000 to help Sunlight Batteries’ operations in Guilford County.

The One NC Fund provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment and to create jobs. Companies get no money upfront and they must meet job creation and capital investment targets to qualify for payment.