Tuesday, 17 August 2010 20:58

Louisiana Jindal Gets Blade Dynamics To New Orleans Michoud

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New Orleans, Louisiana—According to Governor Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana Economic Development, with investment funding from Dow Venture Capital and American Superconductor Corp., Blade Dynamics will create 600 new jobs averaging about $48,000 per year, plus benefits

Today, Gov. Bobby Jindal joined Blade Dynamics Ltd. Co-founder and Sales Director Theo Botha, The Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW) Global Business Director of Government Markets & Lightweight Materials Douglas Parks, American Superconductor Corp. (NASDAQ: AMSC) Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer John Collett, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Director Robert Lightfoot and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to announce that Blade Dynamics will manufacture advanced wind turbine blades and wind turbine components at the Michoud Assembly Facility, or MAF, in New Orleans.
Blade Dynamics has developed wind turbine blade technologies designed to increase the efficiency and performance of high power (multimegawatt) wind turbines, while also reducing costs. Dow, through its Venture Capital group, and AMSC have each made a minority equity investment in Blade Dynamics.
Blade Dynamics has committed to create 600 new, direct jobs by 2015 at an average annual salary of about $48,000, plus benefits, as well as a capital investment of approximately $13 million. LED estimates the new, direct jobs will result in the creation of more than 970 new, indirect jobs, for a total of more than 1,570 new, direct and indirect jobs in Louisiana. In addition, LED estimates the Blade Dynamics project will result in $35.8 million in new, state tax revenue and $23.9 million in new, local tax revenue over the next 10 years.

"This is a huge win for New Orleans and our whole state," said Gov. Jindal. "By recruiting Blade Dynamics and its revolutionary wind power technologies to Louisiana, we are creating hundreds of high-paying new jobs in New Orleans while diversifying the economy of this region.  

"Today's announcement marks a significant step forward for Louisiana into renewable energy and green manufacturing that will help us continue to grow our economy. Louisiana possesses a remarkable combination of assets that make our state an outstanding place in which to launch a green business. We have a low-cost manufacturing environment, well-established transportation and logistics networks, an experienced workforce in energy production and experience in rebuilding with green techniques. Indeed, renewable energy and green manufacturing is one of our target growth industries that will help to diversify our economy, attract more businesses to Louisiana and most importantly, create more jobs for our people so they can find the same kinds of opportunities here that historically they have had to pursue in places like Dallas, Houston or Atlanta."

"We see tremendous potential for our technology and are delighted to align ourselves with American Superconductor Corp. and The Dow Chemical Co.," said Botha. "Our relationship with and the commitments from the state of Louisiana and NASA will also significantly impact the success of our operations and we are looking forward to furthering both of those relationships."

Blade Dynamics was attracted to MAF by a variety of factors, including the availability of specialized equipment previously funded by LED for the benefit of NASA and made available to Blade Dynamics; the attractiveness of the full-service MAF facility; the state's workforce solution, Louisiana FastStart™; and a competitive state incentive package.

To help secure this project, LED offered a customized incentive package to Blade Dynamics, including performance-based financial assistance of $5.4 million to offset lease costs at MAF, performance-based financial assistance of $6 million to offset equipment purchases and performance-based financial assistance of $0.5 million to reimburse projected relocation costs. Through Louisiana FastStart, LED also will provide customized employee recruitment, screening, training development and training delivery to Blade Dynamics. The company also intends to use LED's Quality Jobs program.

"This is an exciting win for Louisiana not only because of the new, high-paying jobs it will bring, but also because Blade Dynamics is in one of our top new target growth industries for Louisiana -- green manufacturing," said Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret. "In fact, this is the second time in less than two months that we have announced a major new project in one of our Blue Ocean target industry sectors in the New Orleans area. We are working hard every day to position Louisiana's economy to outperform the South and U.S. on a regular basis."

MAF is an 832-acre site owned by NASA and located in eastern New Orleans. One of the largest manufacturing campuses in the world, NASA and Lockheed Martin have used this site for the construction of the space shuttle's external fuel tanks for more than 30 years. The facility is undergoing a transformation to become a multitenant complex for government agencies and their contractors, as well as commercial businesses. For more than a year, LED, NASA and Jacobs Technology Inc. have been collaborating to attract new advanced manufacturing tenants to MAF. More than a million square feet of MAF currently is available for additional high-tech, private-sector tenants.

"We are happy to enter into this initial agreement to make Michoud the location for Blade Dynamics' U.S. subsidiary," said NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility Transition Manager Steve Doering. "Like NASA, Blade Dynamics is utilizing advanced technology to improve the state of the industry, making it an ideal fit for the transformed Michoud campus."

Blade Dynamics' proprietary designs will provide compelling advantages for wind turbines rated at two megawatts and higher. This platform also is expected to break industry barriers by enabling blades greater than 80 meters (264 feet) in length for wind turbines with power ratings of 10 megawatts or more that are currently under development.  

"The design and manufacturing processes for wind turbine blades have remained fundamentally unchanged for 20 years," said AMSC Founder, Chairman and CEO Gregory Yurek. "Today, however, the market is migrating to higher wind turbine power ratings. Onshore wind turbines now exceed two megawatts in many locations and offshore wind farm developers are increasingly seeking wind turbines with power ratings exceeding five megawatts. Blade Dynamics presents us -- and the entire wind industry -- with a game-changing wind turbine blade technology that enhances performance and reduces weight and cost for high-power wind turbines. We view this as a compelling investment and expect many wind turbine manufacturers, including our own AMSC Windtec™ licensees, to quickly migrate to the Blade Dynamics solution to avail themselves of these competitive advantages. In fact, AMSC Windtec and Blade Dynamics engineers have already been working in close collaboration to optimize blades for AMSC Windtec turbine designs."

"Dow believes Blade Dynamics' technology has the potential to significantly improve the performance of wind power generation and transform the industry," said Monty Bayer, global business director, Dow Ventures & Business Development, Licensing and Venture Capital. "This investment is another example of Dow's commitment to supporting and accelerating the development of innovative technologies and alternative energy solutions."

"We are pleased to recognize and appreciate the high level of industrial understanding and the support to this technologically advanced project offered by the state of Louisiana," said Parks. "Gov. Bobby Jindal has again confirmed his commitment to sustainable development for Louisiana, significantly positioning the state as a leader in the international clean technology arena to accelerate its economic development and social growth."

About Blade Dynamics Ltd.
Blade Dynamics Ltd. was founded in 2007 with the purpose of improving wind turbine rotor performance to lower the cost of wind energy.. Located on the Isle of Wight, the company's principals have extensive experience in designing and manufacturing large, advanced wind turbine blades using composite materials. The company's product development efforts center on high-performance composite structures that allow rotors to be lighter and improve aerodynamics. Blade Dynamics also has developed Bladeskyn, a revolutionary surface material that extends the lifetime and significantly lowers life cycle costs for wind turbine blades. The company expects that its blade technology will enable the development of rotors that are approximately 200 meters in diameter.   
About Dow Venture Capital
Dow Venture Capital invests in promising startup companies in North America, Europe and Asia. It supports its portfolio with capital, technology and a global network of potential development partners. The energy and clean technologies sectors are among the key areas of interest for Dow Venture Capital. Dow Venture Capital is located in the company's headquarters in Midland, Mich., in Dow's European headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland and in Gotemba, Japan.
About The Dow Chemical Co.
The Dow Chemical Co. combines the power of science and technology with the "Human Element" to passionately innovate what is essential to human progress. The company connects chemistry and innovation with the principles of sustainability to help address many of the world's most challenging problems, such as the need for clean water, renewable energy generation and conservation, and increasing agricultural productivity. Dow's diversified, industry-leading portfolio of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics businesses delivers a broad range of technology-based products and solutions to customers in approximately 160 countries and in high-growth sectors, such as electronics, water, energy, coatings and agriculture. In 2009, Dow had annual sales of $45 billion and employed approximately 52,000 people worldwide. The company's more than 5,000 products are manufactured at 214 sites in 37 countries across the globe.  
About American Superconductor Corp.
American Superconductor Corp. offers an array of proprietary technologies and solutions spanning the electric power infrastructure -- from generation to delivery to end use. The company is a leader in renewable energy, providing proven, megawatt-scale wind turbine designs and electrical control systems. The company also offers a host of Smart Grid technologies for power grid operators that enhance the reliability, efficiency and capacity of the grid, and seamlessly integrate renewable energy sources into the power infrastructure. These include superconductor power cable systems, grid-level surge protectors and power electronics-based voltage stabilization systems. AMSC's technologies are protected by a broad and deep intellectual property portfolio consisting of hundreds of patents and licenses worldwide.

(Press release from Louisiana Economic Development)

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