DALTON, Ga. – A long line of employees streamed into the Qcells facility just before 9 a.m. Thursday morning. The Vice President of the United States was scheduled to arrive later that afternoon and the addition of Secret Service and local law enforcement on campus made clocking in to work that morning a bit more exciting than it normally is.

Located just off the Carbondale Road exit on I-75 north, Qcells, a major manufacturer of photovoltaic cells, employs hundreds of Dalton’s 34,000-plus residents. A sign on the wall just inside the main entrance reads, “One team. One Mission. #crushingit”

Qcells announced in January 2023 that it is investing $2.5 billion to expand its solar manufacturing capacity in Georgia. Today, Vice President Kamala Harris, here in Dalton on the Biden/Harris Administration’s “Investing in America” tour, announced a historic commitment between Qcells and Summit Ridge Energy to deploy 1.2 gigawatts (GW) of community solar power, which will require the manufacturing of 2.5 million solar panels—the largest community solar order in American history.

Upon taking the stage Harris made a point to mention the 12 million jobs that the Biden/Harris Administration has been able to create. In a city like Dalton that went through a tough unemployment crunch after some of the carpet factories closed, jobs are vital to the city’s growth.

“In the face of incredible challenges, you’ve shown incredible resilience,” she said. “You have partnered with Qcells to build a solar panel factory right here in Georgia. The panels being produced here are some of the best in the world.”

In January Senator Jon Ossoff (Ga.-D) and Qcells announced a $2.5 billion investment to massively expand solar manufacturing. What was once known as the carpet capital of the world may soon be the solar manufacturing capital of Georgia.

Ossoff has championed solar manufacturing and his Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act, if passed into law, could ellicit an even larger investment from Qcells’ Korean parent company, Hanwha.

“Working closely alongside Qcells, my solar manufacturing law continues to expand opportunities in Georgia and nationwide. This new partnership will help deploy Georgia-made solar technology across the country,” U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff said in a statement. “I thank Qcells’ team, President Biden, Vice President Harris, and all involved in today’s announcement for their partnership and support for Georgia.”

“No one has been a bigger champion for Qcells than Senator Ossoff,” Qcells CEO Justin Lee said in January 2023. “We’ve worked closely with Senator Ossoff to get his solar manufacturing legislation signed into law, which helped make today’s historic investment possible. We look forward to continuing our close partnership with Senator Ossoff to create fully American-made and sustainable solar solutions, starting here in Georgia.”

Qcells Vice Chairman DK Kim said the $2.5 billion investment will allow for additional jobs numbering in the thousands. There will also be the construction of another, larger Qcells facility in neighboring Cartersville.

During her speech Harris announced that Summit Ridge Energy, an Arlington, Virginia-based community solar assets owner/operator has ordered 2.5 million solar panels from Qcells.

“When we invest in climate, clean energy, and U.S.-based manufacturing, we invest in America and her people,” Harris said towards the end of her speech.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...