GT Solar plans N.H expansion

GT Solar International Inc., which recently expanded its facility in Salem, Mass., is planning to expand its headquarters in Merrimack, N.H., as well.The maker of equipment and materials for the manufacture of solar cells LED lights, told NHBR Tuesday that it plans to spend $13 million to add 10,000 square feet of manufacturing space to its New Hampshire’s facility’s current 55,000 square feet, as well as hire 16 more people its New Hampshire workforce of 300.GT Solar made news last week when it opened a newly expanded, state-of-the-art facility to produce sapphire crystals – the key material for LED lighting – in Salem. GT invested some $27 million into the 20,000-square-foot facility, tripling its production capacity and doubling its workforce to 100 so it could handle the demand.Indeed, thanks to growth in LED sales, the company upped its guidance last week, predicting revenues of $140 million to $150 million, earnings per share going from 8 to 11 cents for the quarter, and backlog at the end of fiscal 2012 of $1.6 billion, up by $600 million.GT Solar’s Merrimack expansion isn’t as dramatic as in Salem, said GT Solar’s Jeff Nestel-Patt, because it expects to see a leveling off in solar furnace sales. — BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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