Friday, October 22, 2010

Home-energy firm to locate at Navy Yard

"A British company that specializes in home-energy overhauls will locate its U.S. operations in Philadelphia, the latest green company to sign up for the Navy Yard Clean Energy Campus.

Mark Group, which calls itself the United Kingdom's largest installer of domestic energy-saving solutions, announced today that it would open its American headquarters in the former Navy Yard in South Philadelphia.

The company, based in Leicester, England, employs 1,400 people. It said it expects to hire more than 300 people in the next three years as it establishes U.S. operations to sell and install home-energy efficiency systems, including weatherization improvements and renewable-power options.

Gov. Rendell's office offered the company $3.3 million in incentives, including a $2 million Pennsylvania Industrial Development loan, a $500,000 opportunity grant, a $638,000 job-creation tax credit, and $143,550 from WEDnet, a web portal aimed at training and educating workers.

Rendell, Mayor Nutter, and economic-development officials from agencies such as the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. and Select Greater Philadelphia welcomed the company at a Navy Yard ceremony today.

Mark Group's services are aimed at individual homeowners, as well as builders, architects, and public authorities. It says it has made two million British properties more energy-efficient since it was founded in 1974.

It also recently expanded operations to Australia.

The Navy Yard Clean Energy Campus is attempting to establish itself as a national center for research, education, and the commercialization of energy-related technologies.

Some of the development's potential has taken longer than promised to be realized.

HelioSphera US, a Greek solar-cell maker, announced last November that it would break ground in 2010 on a Navy Yard manufacturing facility. Rendell promised $49 million in state inducements.

The $500 million plant - which, it was said, would employ 400 people after a projected opening in 2011 - is still on the drawing board.

"They are continuing to work on raising their private financial commitments necessary to move forward with the development," said John Grady, executive vice president of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp."

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