Hemlock Slashes Workforce Due to ‘Significant Economic Challenges’

In December 2008, then-Governor Phil Bredesen announced Hemlock Semiconductor would build a plant in Tennessee, representing "potentially the largest investment in Tennessee history."

In December 2008, then-Governor Phil Bredesen announced Hemlock Semiconductor would build a plant in Tennessee, representing “potentially the largest investment in Tennessee history.”

An economic development win of recent years is turning into a giant sore spot. Monday Hemlock Semiconductor announced it will lay off most of its workforce in March due to weak demand for polysilicon, which is used in the production of solar panels.

Hemlock says the roughly 300 job cuts are due to an oversupply of polysilicon and tariffs being considered in China.

Tennessee incentives for construction of the plant in Clarksville totaled more than $100 million. TVA and local governments kicked in millions more, and that money is Hemlock’s to keep, according to a statement from the Department of Economic and Community Development.

State Rep. Joe Pitts of Clarksville says such incentive deals will be more heavily scrutinized.

“I think going forward, we will take a closer look at it. I’m just more focused on looking at the future and what we can do to help the 300 people, also to ensure that Hemlock gets whatever help they need in order to open this plant.”

Hemlock says the stalled plant could be revived in the next year or two. But a written statement says, “should market conditions persist, these layoffs could become permanent.”

While there were no clawback provisions in the incentive package for Hemlock, a spokesman says the Haslam Administration began instituting clawbacks last year.

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