MARLBOROUGH – Gov. Deval Patrick lauded state and local officials for their success in attracting clean-energy businesses to Massachusetts during a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday for the wind company Vestas.
“We have every good reason to be a great home for the development of the clean tech sector,” Patrick told a large crowd of company executives and local politicians at the future site of the company’s research facility on Crowley Street. “We believe in shaping our future. We don’t just have to sit around and wait for the corner to be turned.”
Anchored in Denmark with U.S. headquarters in Oregon, Vestas bought the 8.5-acre site at 100 Crowley St. for $1.85 million in September. It plans to add at least 60 new jobs and invest at least $16 million in a new 27,000-square-foot research facility that it will use to test and develop power generators and converters for its turbines.
The company has supplied more than 44,000 turbines in 67 countries since 1979.
Patrick said the state’s highly educated workforce, green-minded citizenry and relatively high cost of energy have made attracting clean energy a top priority of his administration.
He said the Legislature has carved out a number of statutory frameworks to make the state attractive to clean energy companies, and praised Mayor Nancy Stevens and the City Council for doing the same.
In August, the council approved a tax increment financing deal that will give the company a break on property taxes for 10 years, beginning next July.
The agreement will give Vestas full exemption on property taxes on both the newly constructed and leased properties for two years. After that, the exemption will shrink over the term of the agreement and drop to zero.
“This is one of the real building blocks of our community,” Stevens said of Vestas, which she believes will be a real asset to the community.
“There’s such an opportunity here for partnership,” she said, adding that she hopes the company will help with the school district’s Science Technology Engineering Mathematics initiative.
William Henrickson, Vestas’ vice president of technology R&D in Boston, said the company looks forward to moving its 34 area employees from 100 Lock Drive and a second office in Hudson to an existing office building at the Crowley Street site early next year.
He said Marlborough’s highly promoted central location and proximity to major colleges were major factors in the company’s decision.
“The university system in the area is something that we really draw from,” he said.
George Ciccone, executive director for the Marlborough Economic Development Corp., said a company like Vestas brings name recognition that will hopefully draw other clean-energy companies to the city.
“This adds to a small, growing cluster of clean energy companies in Marlborough,” he said. The city has about 10 such companies, he said.
Vestas expects to finish construction of its research facility by next summer and to increase its workforce there to 100 by 2014.
“Every job we add is good news,” Patrick told the Daily News after the event.
When asked whether the advent of another clean energy company in Marlborough softens the blow of the city losing solar panel company Evergreen Solar earlier this year, Patrick said he thinks the focus on Evergreen was overblown.
“I hear about the loss of one company, and yet we’ve had a 6.7 percent growth in this sector this year and we’re expected to double that next year,” he said, referring to a recent report released by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center that predicts an employment growth rate of 15.2 percent in the clean energy industry for fiscal 2012.
“We’re not going to win every one, but we’re not going to win anything if we don’t get in the game,” Patrick added. “And we’re in the game in a big way.”
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