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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Mar. 8, 201812:19 PM EST

JinkoSolar plans $50 million plant at Cecil Commerce Center with 200 jobs; will open HQ in Jacksonville

Project Volt legislation being repealed; China-based company seeking city incentives.

JinkoSolar (U.S.) Inc., suspected since January to be planning a Jacksonville manufacturing plant, is proposing a $50.5 million solar-panel assembly and distribution operation at Cecil Commerce Center, according to City Council legislation posted Thursday.

Although not in the legislation, JinkoSolar also intends to establish its U.S. headquarters in Jacksonville, said council Vice President Aaron Bowman, senior vice president of business development for JAXUSA Partnership, the economic development division of JAX Chamber.

 “Jinko has told us that yes, this will be their U.S. headquarters,” he said. Jinko has a sales office in San Francisco.

Bowman said the company wanted to establish its footprint in Jacksonville.

“Jinko is probably if not No. 1, one of the top solar panel manufacturers in the world and to have them choose Jacksonville is really going to put us on the map,” Bowman said Thursday.

“A lot of people will ask ‘Why did they pick Jacksonville and why shouldn’t we be there?’” he said.

JinkoSolar (U.S.) Inc. is part of Shanghai, China-based JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd. It proposes to hire up to 200 employees for the project by year-end 2019 and pay an average wage of $45,562. 

JinkoSolar executed a lease for developer Hillwood’s new 407,353-square-foot building at 4660 New World Ave. in AllianceFlorida in the Cecil center. That’s where it will assemble and distribute the panels.

Aaron Bowman

Resolution 2018-149, to provide incentives to JinkoSolar, is on a fast track for two council meetings. It will be introduced March 13 and could be approved March 27.

The city proposes tax incentives of $3.4 million, comprising a $3.2 million Recapture Enhanced Value grant to be paid over 10 years and a $200,000 Qualified Target Industry tax refund for JinkoSolar to be repaid over five years.

The state will pay the remaining $800,000 of the total $1 million QTI refund. Other state incentives were not specified in the city fact sheet.

Bowman said the state is completing its incentives, which will include training assistance. The legislative fact sheet says JinkoSolar stated that state and city incentives are a material factor in its decision to locate its new operation in Jacksonville rather than another site.

Jinko’s first U.S. plant

 It would be the company’s first assembly and distribution facility in the United States as well as the first Chinese solar-panel manufacturer to confirm plans to open a U.S. plant after President Donald Trump announced Jan. 22 the U.S. would impose duties of up to 30 percent on solar equipment made abroad.

Its company description matches that of the unidentified Project Volt, which was approved for city incentives in January to open a two-site plant in Jacksonville, including at the AllianceFlorida building. The Volt legislation is being repealed.

Project Volt was approved by council on a fast track in January for almost $25 million in city incentives to create 800 jobs and make a $410 million capital investment to manufacture and distribute solar panels in Cecil Commerce Center and at an 815,000-square-foot building along Faye Road in North Jacksonville. 

The state incentives totaled $29.3 million. It also said it would establish its U.S. headquarters in Jacksonville.

It was considered the largest single capital-investment economic-development project for the city.

Ordinance 2018-167 repeals the Volt economic development agreement, which was not executed. Volt “decided not to move forward with the project at this time, but to maintain confidentiality,” says the legislative fact sheet filed with the ordinance.

Bowman said he was under a nondisclosure agreement with Project Volt and could not comment about it.

JinkoSolar has not returned emails for comment.

Why Jacksonville?

Bowman said JinkoSolar chose Jacksonville for several reasons, including the port’s activity with Asian trade. Another reason is the expansion of the solar market in the Southeast U.S.

JinkoSolar anticipates using JaxPort for importing and exporting, as did Volt. A majority of the solar panel components will be sourced from China, at least in the first few years, according to the legislative fact sheet.

JinkoSolar intends to hire 200 people for the project.

The legislation comes six weeks after JinkoSolar said its board authorized its U.S. subsidiary to finalize planning for the construction of an advanced solar manufacturing facility in the United States. On Jan. 29, JinkoSolar Holding Co. said wholly owned JinkoSolar (U.S.) Inc. signed a major master solar module supply agreement with an unidentified U.S. counterparty.

Jacksonville jobs were posted in January for JinkoSolar for positions that included “Sr. HR Manager Job,” “Human Resources Manager” and a dozen more for managers for facilities, logistics, C&B for compensation and benefits, manufacturing, ER for employee relations, L&D for training, administration, legal, process engineering, equipment engineering and construction as well as deputy general manager.

A global company

JinkoSolar was established in 2006 and publicly listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2010. It describes itself as a global leader in the solar industry. 

It distributes solar products and sells its services to an international utility, commercial and residential customer base in China, the U.S., Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Chile, South Africa, India, Mexico, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium and other countries and regions.

JinkoSolar employs more than 15,000 people among its eight global production facilities and 16 subsidiaries in Japan, Singapore, India, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Australia, South Africa and United Arab Emirates.

It said it has global sales teams in the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, Kenya, Costa Rica, Colombia, Panama and Argentina.

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