Nordex USA breaks ground on Arkansas wind turbine plant

The manufacturer of utility-scale wind turbines held a groundbreaking celebration for its $100 million manufacturing facility in Jonesboro, Ark.

Nordex USA Inc. (Chicago, Ill.), a manufacturer of utility-scale wind turbines, on Sept. 11 held a groundbreaking celebration at the construction site of its $100 million (USD) manufacturing facility in Jonesboro, Ark. At the event, management presented its vision for a renewable energy future, as well as details on plans to hire 700 people by 2014.

"I am pleased that Nordex has chosen Arkansas for its manufacturing center," said Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe. "Our success in the clean-energy economy is exciting, and having a global wind-energy company, like Nordex, in the Natural State helps to promote sustainability, alternative-energy development, and environmentally friendly practices."

The first phase of construction began in late July at the 187-acre site in Jonesboro's Craighead Technology Park. "We are positioning ourselves for the market surge around the corner," said Ralf Sigrist, president and CEO of Nordex USA. "We are absolutely confident that the U.S. wind market will be the biggest in the world. 'Made-in-Arkansas' is at the core of our strategy to win." Production is scheduled to begin in mid 2010.

"We expect to be producing up to 300 wind turbines a year by 2014," said Joe Brenner, VP of production in Jonesboro. "It will take a highly-skilled, well-trained workforce of around 700 people to make that happen. Right now, we have five people and a construction zone. So we're looking at a strong ramp-up and an aggressive recruiting and training program." Hiring will span about four years. Nordex plans to employ locally close to 100 people by the end of 2010, as it begins ramping up nacelle assembly, in the areas of operations, office support, supply management, production engineering, quality assurance and more.

Recruiting and hiring will follow a similar pattern for the composite rotor blade facility, which will be built in phase two of the construction program. The Jonesboro operation will be an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) producing one of the largest classes of wind turbines in the world, the 2.5-MW N90 and N100. The $40 million nacelle assembly plant will have 115,000 ft²/10,684m² of production space. The $60 million rotor blade facility is then expected to begin production in late 2012.