The future of Delaware's 'green' industrial technology now rests on the site where tanks, cars and S.U.V.'S were once manufactured.
This week, California-based Bloom Energy began the groundbreaking process for its' 200,000 square-foot, fuel-cell plant, making Newark's former Chrysler assembly plant a thing of the past.
Delaware Governor Jack Markell said the event brought the site full circle.
"Growing up I went to school with kids whose parents were proud of the hard work that they did right here, building things in Delaware that could be exported all over the world," Markell said. "Today's groundbreaking gives new energy and new opportunity to a new generation of kids whose parents are going to be proud to write that next chapter of what it means to be made in Delaware."
In an interview, Markell said Bloom Energy’s Newark Plant could create as many as 900 jobs in Delaware.
Bloom executives said the company will retain its Sunnyvale, CA plant, which has created more than 1,000 jobs. Governor Markell said Bloom's decision to set up shop in Delaware will expand the company's profile and chip away at Delaware's 7.5% unemployment rate.
"This factory should give hundreds of new employees a chance to put their energy into manufacturing products that will power homes and businesses across the East Coast," Markell said. "We're excited to see Bloom turning to Delaware."
Bloom Co-Founder and CEO K.R. Sridhar said the company chose Delaware as its East Coast manufacturing site because of the state’s “business-friendly climate ” and shared values.
"You put people first, we put people first. We want to see that when we build our factory here, the great people of Delaware and the [present and future Bloom] employees, together, are part of this mission."
New technology, new location, new customers
At Monday's event, the company announced its new customers: Delmarva Power, AT&T, Urban Outfitters and Owens Corning. Bloom Energy's "Bloom Boxes," (energy servers which convert fuel to electricity using an electrochemical reaction) currently provide energy servers for Google, Coca-Cola and eBay.
The company says the energy servers provide clean energy and a cost-effective alternative to more common forms of energy.
Bloom Energy’s fuel-cell manufacturing plant is housed on the campus of the University of Delaware's Science, Technology and Advanced Research Campus.
The plant is expected to be up and running by the first quarter of 2013.