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SKC opens Covington solar film plant
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SKC celebrated the opening of its newest manufacturing plant Tuesday, which produced its first roll of ethylene vinyl acetate film Sept. 15.

The move is part of SKC's efforts to become a global leader in the solar and renewable energy fields. EVA film encapsulates the solar cells of solar panels to protect them from contamination and physical impacts.

The facility will eventually be a 200,000 square-foot facility and $100 million investment; it currently houses two lines which will produce 12,000 tons of EVA sheets annually, in addition to the four existing lines at plants in South Korea.

When combined with existing products, David Kim, SKC director of photovoltaic business, said the addition of EVA sheets means SKC can now provide all the flexible components needed for solar panel production. SKC is the only global company that can make that claim.

The company made the decision to expand its EVA production based on market studies and interviews with customers and felt the solar industry was one of the best bets for immediate and sustained growth. The company quoted projections that say 25 percent of the world's power will come from solar sources in 40 years.

SKC also opened a chemical plant to produce polyol, the main ingredient of the polyurethane used in car interiors. SKC President Park Jang-suk said his company will continue to invest locally and has a vision to fill the entire 400-acre campus in Covington.

"We are gathered here as one body, one family and one company with the (sic) realization of a long-filled vision to make the SKC campus in Covington a global leader," Park said.

The company plans to create 120 jobs during the next decade and has already hired workers for the EVA plant. SKC originally opened in Covington in 1999.

This is the first phase of the company's domestic solar plans, with other lines to follow during the next several years. The company's core business is polyester film production.

Covington Mayor Kim Carter thanked SKC for its continued investment. Prior to these two latest plants, Carter said SKC had created or supported 624 direct and indirect jobs. Indirect jobs are those jobs added because of SKC's needs and spending.

Spending by employees was estimated to be $73 million, while local governments have received $34 million in taxes.

Local officials previously estimated that the fully built-out plant will bring in an additional $5.2 million in annual ad valorem tax. Phase one, which is expected to be finished by 2013, will create around 70 jobs, and phase two will create an additional 50 jobs.

To ensure SKC stayed local with this latest plant, the city and county offered incentives. Each phase of the project will receive a seven-year tax abatement plan. The first three years of each plan will be tax free, while the additional four years will be phased in at a 25 percent tax rate increase per year. SKC will save a total of $6 million in taxes over the life of the project.

SKC announced it would donate to several nonprofits, including the Miracle League, the College and Career Academy, Relay for Life, the Arts Association, the Covington Police Department and Operation Sandbox.