August 9, 2011 – International wind turbine manufacturer Vestas plans to purchase 8.5 acres in Marlborough, construct a 27,000-square-foot research and development facility there and rent an adjacent 13,000 square feet of office space as part of a $16-million expansion in MetroWest.
The European-based company will be consolidating its two offices in Marlborough and Hudson – which employ about 34 people – into the new facility and will hire about 66 more. Company officials expect the total workforce to be more than 100 by 2014.
The company wants to expand in Marlborough because of the city’s highly educated workforce, its concentration of other technology businesses and the access to world-class universities, said company spokesperson Andrew Longeteig.
The Marlborough City Council has also approved a tax increment financing plan that will give the company a break on taxes into the foreseeable future.
The company has been operating in the United States since 1981 and now employs about 3,000 workers in America.
About half of the company’s manufacturing operations are in Colorado, but the U.S. headquarters are in Oregon.
Internationally, the company has more than 43,000 wind turbines installed in 66 countries.
It makes turbines of various sizes, ranging from 1.8-megawatt to 3-megawatt systems with rotor diameters ranging from 91 to 112 meters and standing between 65 and 119 meters tall.
Vestas will test electrical generators that are installed in the turbines at the Marlborough location.
While the Marlborough City Council unanimously approved the TIF at a recent meeting, the tax package must still be voted on by the state’s Economic Assistance Advisory Council, which Longeteig said the company expects will happen in September.
If the TIF is approved, Longeteig said the company could begin construction and hiring of technical engineers, management staff and administration in the fall, with an expected opening in 2012.
The company is purchasing the land to allow for possible future expansion, but Longeteig said the new 27,000-square-foot building is the only construction currently on the horizon.
About half of the company’s $16-million investment will be used to construct the new R&D facility and the other half will be to outfit the building and the office space with supplies and equipment, Longeteig said.
The purchase of the land at 100 Crowley Dr. is not yet complete. Longeteig said the 8.5 acres is just east of Interstate 495 in the north part of Marlborough, near the Hudson border.
Local officials are thrilled about the company’s plans.
Marlborough has been in the news recently because of real estate deals, but mostly less-positive ones. Fidelity announced earlier this year it is closing its Marlborough headquarters and moving hundreds of jobs out of the region. The former Hewlett-Packard manufacturing plant remains vacant. Combined, these locations total hundreds of thousands of vacant or soon-to-be vacant spaces.
Now, officials are able to celebrate what could be the start of a long relationship with Vestas in the community.
As for the tax financing that the council approved, the program has come under criticism in the past, especially in relation to another company based in Marlborough – Evergreen Solar.
That solar panel manufacturing company received numerous state subsidies to open a plant in Devens, which it has since closed, causing state officials to reclaim money given to the company.
Marlborough City Council President Arthur Vigeant said conditions are in place with the Vestas deal to protect the city. If Vestas does not deliver on its job creation promises, the tax subsidies will be reduced, Vigeant said.
“We have clauses in there to protect us,” he said.
This story originally appeared here