Willard & Kelsey Solar Group lays off 40 employees - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Willard & Kelsey Solar Group lays off 40 employees

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PERRYSBURG, OH (WTOL) – A local producer of solar panels is trimming its workforce. Willard and Kelsey Solar Group, located on Progress Drive in Perrysburg, received a multimillion dollar state loan based on creating jobs.

The Ohio Department of Development and head of the Northwest Ohio Solar Hub are monitoring Willard and Kelsey. Despite layoffs, neither are willing to give up on the solar panel maker.

There was hope and expectations of job growth when Vice President Joe Biden visited the plant back in June of 2009. On Tuesday, very few cars were in the facility's parking lot after the company laid off 40 workers. The layoffs were validated by Sophia Fisher, executive manager of the Northwest Ohio Solar Hub.

"I'd say pretty typical of the cycle these businesses go through and experience. It's not uncommon," said Fisher.

Fisher is confident Willard and Kelsey can bounce back.

"Go in, make changes to production line improvements from efficiency and cost from a business perspective. Then you'll eventually, in the near future, you'll see them ramp up again for production," Fisher said.

The company received a $5 million loan from the Ohio Department of Development in March of 2009. While job growth projections have not been met, the department said the company is not currently considered to be in default of the loan.

"We're monitoring it along the way. The company's making monthly payments in terms of its loan. We're communicating with the company from the outset," said Daryl Hennessy, executive director of the Ohio Department of Development.

Fisher reminds that patience is needed as this emerging technology field experiences growing pains.

"Of course there's projections. Sometimes you meet projections, sometimes you have to modify it. Doesn't mean the industry as a whole is bound to fail or those jobs won't be created or exceeded," explained Fisher.

Attempts to get a statement from Willard and Kelsey were unsuccessful.

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