by Mark Carter
Posted 8/6/2012 12:00 am
Updated 2 years ago
NextGen Illumination CEO Jerry McCormick said late last month the LED lighting producer has moved its manufacturing back to Fayetteville from Asia.
McCormick was one of several business leaders in the advanced energy arena participating in a July 19 roundtable discussion at Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville hosted by the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association.
No word yet on how many jobs the move will entail.
"Advanced energy is thriving in Northwest Arkansas, so much so that we transitioned our advanced LED light manufacturing from Asia to Fayetteville earlier this year," McCormick said in an AAEA news release. "The advanced energy industry is already creating jobs and benefiting Arkansas businesses, and there is lots of room for growth.
"Our success with helping poultry growers save money and improve productivity is just one example of how advanced energy technologies can help Arkansas' companies succeed."
The roundtable included McCormick, Doug Hutchings of Silicon Solar Solutions, David Moody of LGW, and Advanced Energy Economy's Graham Richard.
Also represented were HERS, Arkansas Oklahoma Gas, Geavista Group, Schneider Electric and Pulaski Tech.
Discussion centered on a recent survey that indicates Arkansans are open to "advanced energy solutions." Also, business leaders toured NWACC's weatherization training center, considered one of the nation's best. There, Arkansans can upgrade their "energy efficiency and renewable energy job skills."
The online survey of 514 Arkansans was conducted June 19-21 by JZ Analytics on behalf of AAEA, its parent organization AEE and other groups. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, and full results are available at AEE.net/Arkansas.
Highlights of the roundtable and survey, courtesy of the AAEA release, include:
- Arkansas' favorable policy climate has helped generate economic activity in the state's energy efficiency sector, with many companies expanding their workforce by as much as 25 percent. Arkansas is the only state in the Southeast to have an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, which requires electric and natural gas utilities to reach certain targets in energy conservation. Established in 2010, the Arkansas EERS has led to expansion of utility efficiency programs, which save money for businesses and residents that make energy-saving improvements in their homes and properties.
- Arkansas has more than 100 businesses with operations tied to advanced energy, employing more than 10,000. Northwest Arkansas and the Fort Smith area are home to about 30 advanced energy companies on the cutting edge of advanced energy innovations, including LGW with battery storage technology and Silicon Solar Solutions with solar photovoltaic manufacturing technologies to reduce production costs.
- The survey found that 88 percent of Arkansans think it's important to the state economy to manufacture advanced energy products like batteries for power storage, high-efficiency motors and equipment and wind-turbine components. In fact, by a more than three-to-one margin (61 percent to 17 percent), Arkansans believe Congress should continue to promote wind energy by extending existing tax credits for wind energy.
- The majority of those surveyed believe that a gallon of gasoline will cost $5 or more within five years, and one in five Arkansans believe the United States' current dependence on foreign oil is a "crisis," while three in five call it a "major problem."