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SKC to locate $100 million plant in Covington, bring 120 jobs
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SKC will construct a $100 million plant and bring 120 jobs to Covington in the next 7 to 10 years, after reaching an agreement on an incentive package with the Newton County Industrial Development Authority.

One of Covington’s largest industries is expanding its footprint here as it prepares to enter the U.S. solar power market by producing the film that encases and protects the actual solar panels.

SKC’s Project Solar, as it was dubbed by the state, will be divided into two phases, each with an estimated $50 million of investment. The first production line of phase one is expected to be running by September 2011, according to SKC’s previous plans, with other lines to follow during the next several years.

Authority officials estimate 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. The jobs will have a salary range of $35,000 to $100,000 with an average wage of $43,000.

Although, SKC had a groundbreaking ceremony in Covington in May, the company was also looking at sites in California and Texas. The industrial development authority and SKC have been negotiating an incentive package for months and finally settled on a plan that convinced the company to locate on its existing property in Covington. The development authority authorized its chairman to sign the agreement at its Thursday meeting, but a signing ceremony won’t take place until next week.

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.

Authority attorney Frank Turner Jr. said there are several performance guarantees that SKC must meet in order to get the full incentive package. One guarantee is that SKC must start phase two within three years of the finish of phase one.

Turner said the plant will not only bring jobs and taxes to the county, but also ensures that SKC will remain rooted in Covington. County Chairman Kathy Morgan said the plant will make Newton County more attractive to other companies, particularly those in other green or advanced technology fields.