Less than two years after local headlines blared “Hickenlooper makes it official,” GE announced that it will not open a $300 million plant that was scheduled to employ 355 people. This announcement is a major economic loss for the state, as the governor called the project “one of the biggest deals that will hit the state in a long time.” From Denver Post article:
“We have decided that it is not in the best interest of GE, our customers or the Denver community to move forward with the build-out of this facility,” said Lindsay Thiele, a GE spokeswoman.
This let-down comes just days after Hickenlooper’s latest economic development bust, when the Hallmark Channel announced that it would be moving major production of a Western mini-series from Colorado to Canada, because of inadequate tax incentives and environmental concerns around building a set from the ground up. The state offered Hallmark $2.7 million in incentives to film part of that series in Colorado. It is unclear how much of that money will actually make it into the cable channel’s hands.
For several years the solar panel industry has faced challenges of steep price competition and overcapacity, which have worked in tandem to driven margins down and force a wave of consolidations and bankruptcies in the industry.
Instead of GE building the panels itself, the company decided to give its IP, acquired by the 2009 acquisition of PrimeStar Solar, to leading US solar panel manufacturer First Solar in exchange for $82 million in First Solar stock. As part of this deal, First Solar factories in upstate New York will produce the panels, and the Arvada lab where much of this technology was developed will close, costing an additional 50 “green jobs” in Colorado.
As it turns out, a Hickenlooper press conference might just be the kiss of death for businesses considering relocating to Colorado.