Dept. of Commerce: Governor Doyle Announces $500,000 for Orion Energy Systems to Help Establish Plant in Manitowoc

Tony Hozeny, Department of Commerce, 608-267-9661
Ethnie Groves, Office of the Governor, 608-261-2156
Steve Heins, Orion Energy Systems, Ltd., 920-892-5800

Project Will Bring Up To 100 Jobs Back To Former Mirro Plant

MANITOWOC – Governor Jim Doyle today announced that the Department of Commerce will provide Orion Energy Systems, Ltd. with a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant Economic Development loan to assist in the establishment of a manufacturing plant in Manitowoc, creating up to 100 jobs.

“My ‘Grow Wisconsin’ Plan calls for investing in manufacturing so that we can help create good-paying jobs all across our state,” Governor Doyle said. “This project will stimulate the local economy and create jobs for the citizens of Manitowoc. I applaud Orion for making this investment, and for bringing new printing jobs back to the former Mirro plant.”

Orion recently purchased the 260,000-square-foot former Mirro distribution facility and will invest approximately $1.8 million to establish a new manufacturing plant. The Department of Commerce loan will be used to purchase equipment for the facility.

“In 2003, Manitowoc County was hit hard by the closing of the Mirro plant and the subsequent loss of hundreds of jobs,” Governor Doyle said. “Since then, my administration has been working hard to listen to the people of Manitowoc, partner with local leadership, and bring new economic opportunity to this area.”

Over the past two years, the Department of Commerce has provided approximately $6 million to more than 20 projects in Manitowoc County that have created nearly 600 jobs, retained nearly 300 more, and leveraged more than $18 million in new investment.

“We’ve been blessed with great people in this organization,” said Orion president and founder Neal Verfuerth. “This company is successful because of the combined efforts of 110 employees and 320 investors, and it is equally important that the State of Wisconsin and the City of Manitowoc are supporting our efforts to bring manufacturing and new jobs back to Wisconsin.”

Orion Energy Systems, headquartered in Plymouth, Wisconsin, designs and manufactures proprietary, energy-efficient lighting products for the school, gymnasium, manufacturing, warehousing, and commercial markets. Orion has been in the energy and lighting business since 1996. In 2004 Orion helped its business clients save $16.5 million and more than 100 megawatts and 600 million kilowatt hours by using its environmentally-friendly lighting fixtures.

Neal Verfuerth, President of Orion Energy Systems, received two of Wisconsin’s most prestigious awards – Ernst & Young’s 2004 Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year, and the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Manufacturer of the Year 2004 Grand Award. Recently, Orion also received the 2004 Wisconsin Partners for Clean Air Award given by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.