New solar panel manufacturer will move into Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley

Start up manufacturer could have 20-30 employees by end of 2010

Helios USA, a start-up manufacturer of solar panels, will occupy 40,000 square feet of space in the Canal Street Commerce Center, at 1301 W. Canal St., Milwaukee, in the Menomonee Valley.

A formal announcement from the company is expected near the end of the month.

The building, anchored by Proven Direct, was built by West Bend-based Ziegler Bence Development on the former site of the Milwaukee stockyards, and is now almost fully leased.

Steve Ostrenga, CEO of Helios USA, told BizTimes previously that it would take at least four months to assemble its manufacturing operations in the facility and train its workforce.

 “This is going to be advanced manufacturing, using a robotic platform,” he said. “It will be highly sophisticated and complex.”

When the Milwaukee plant begins production, it will have 20 to 30 employees, Ostrenga said previously. It expects to have more than 50 workers within three years.

Helios USA will produce solar panels for the residential and commercial markets. The company’s designs will allow its customers to produce more electricity per square foot than models that are currently available, Ostrenga said.

Helios USA’s solar panels will sell on the higher end of the cost spectrum because of their higher efficiency.

“In terms of power per square foot we will be one of the top three in the industry,” Ostrenga said. “The value will be that in a smaller footprint or rooftop, our customers will be able to generate more electricity.”

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