Tipton — The investment that is transforming the abandoned Getrag Transmission plant in Tipton County to the future home of Abound Solar has received national recognition.

Trade & Industry Development magazine has given the project its sixth annual Corporate Investment and Community Image Award. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. made the announcement Thursday evening.

President Barack Obama announced in July that Abound Solar, headquartered in Colorado, was receiving a $400 million stimulus loan from the U.S. Department of Energy. It was for the expansion of the company’s facilities in Colorado and the opening of new production lines in Tipton.

The company plans to start hiring by the end of this year, with production to begin in 2012. The Tipton plant at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Ind. 28 is expected to create 1,000 jobs.

Abound Solar is deserving of the recognition for its efforts in harnessing the sun’s power, said Jane Harper, Tipton County commissioner.

“With our existing predominance in agricultural production and ag business, the arrival of a company that has discovered an efficient method to capture an alternative energy source, coupled with companies interested in our wind resources, signifies to the business world that we are fully engaged in economic development,” she said.

Abound Solar’s location in Tipton enhances the community’s opportunities to attract similar types of “green” technology industries, she said.

“The county has created a recognizable environment that is supportive of both agricultural technology jobs and renewable energy opportunities,” Harper continued. “Ag tech and green tech businesses would enable Tipton County to have something uniquely transcendent, and would provide quality employment for our residents.”

Abound’s national recognition helps attract business investment opportunities to Indiana, said Mitch Roob, Indiana secretary of commerce and CEO of the IEDC.

“Economic development is exceedingly competitive, especially in a tough economy,” Roob said in a press release. “The publishers of Trade & Industry Development know an award-winning project when they see it and this recognition further underscores the fact that Indiana’s business climate can attract the most sought-after investments in the country.”

The award selections are based on an analysis of dollars invested, size and scope of the project, and number of jobs anticipated.

“We are very pleased that the state of Indiana received one of our 2011 CiCi Awards for the Abound Solar project in Tipton,” said Gavin Perry, managing editor of the magazine. “The project was included in our Corporate Investment division.”

Perry said the project also represents a significant footprint in the growing field of alternative energy and economic diversification in Tipton.

“Abound Solar is excited about establishing a manufacturing facility in Tipton,” said Steve Abley, chief financial officer for Abound. “The state was very supportive of our efforts there to extend the company’s growth.

Abound Solar’s thin-film photovoltaic module manufacturing technology was created at Colorado State University in the late 1980s. The company expects, when completed, the Tipton site will be the largest solar panel manufacturing facility in the U.S., producing millions of panels annually.

Other investments recognized by Trade & Industry Development magazine for a CiCi Award include: Samsung, Texas; Nucor Corp., Louisiana; Nissan, Tennessee; General Motors, New York; fortu Power Cell, Michigan; Gulfstream Aerospace, Georgia; KiOR, Mississippi; General Motors, Tennessee; Caterpillar Corp., North Carolina; ATK Aerospace, Utah; ZF Group, South Carolina; Adobe, Utah; Global Foundaries, New York; and Dow Chemical, Michigan.

Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor