Gov. Pat McCrory and N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker announced Tuesday that a new energy-related company will locate its manufacturing facility in McDowell County and create 50 jobs.

A company called The Solar Connection will locate its manufacturing operations in the Universal building and invest more than $500,000 over the next three years in Marion, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

“North Carolina will continue to embrace an ‘all of the above’ approach to energy development,” said McCrory. “We applaud The Solar Connection, a veteran-owned company, for its commitment to hire military veteran workers and grow operations in western North Carolina.”

The Solar Connection will manufacture photovoltaic (PV) solar cells and related PV products. They will initially function as a wholesaler, forming local strategic partnerships with installers. The Solar Connection will also partner with local schools to train employers on solar manufacturing and installation, according to the news release.

“Companies know that western North Carolina offers them the skilled workforce and strong business climate they need to succeed,” said Decker. “We’re proud of our business partners, like The Solar Connection, that are involved in the development of advanced energy solutions.”

Salaries will vary by job function, but average annual payroll is estimated to be more than $1.19 million plus benefits. McDowell County’s average annual wage is $30,349.

“We are proud of our connection to western North Carolina,” said William Boyle, CEO of The Solar Connection, a wholly owned subsidiary of Boyle Enterprises. “We look forward to developing a local workforce capable of distributing worldwide the most advanced solar products made here in the town of Marion.”

County Manager Chuck Abernathy, who is also the county’s economic development director, said he and other county leaders have worked on this project for about a year.

“It’s good news,” he said.

Abernathy said Boyle is a veteran and wants to hire more veterans to work at his company. The Solar Connection will be located in a section of the Universal site. The county purchased the former furniture plant complex and is converting it into a job-training center and a place for new or expanding industries.

The project was made possible in part by a performance-based grant from the One North Carolina Fund of up to $156,000. The One NC Fund provides financial assistance, through local governments, to attract business projects that will stimulate economic activity and create new jobs in the state. Companies receive no money up front and must meet job creation and investment performance standards to qualify for grant funds. These grants also require and are contingent upon local matches, according to the news release.

“My first priority in McDowell County is job creation,” said N.C. Sen. Ralph Hise. “Our top-notch workforce has created a strong business climate, and this announcement will bolster our local economy.”

“The Solar Connection, LLC’s decision to locate in McDowell County will greatly expand employment opportunities for this region in North Carolina,” said N.C. Rep. Josh Dobson. “We applaud the state’s recent tax reform, which opens pathways for employment opportunities for our citizens and the future growth of our businesses.”

Other partners that helped with this project include: the N.C. Department of Commerce, N.C. Community Colleges, McDowell County, the McDowell Economic Development Association, and McDowell Technical Community College.

For more information about The Solar Connection, including job opportunities, visit: