Potential employer promises jobs for Beatrice
By the end of the summer there could be a new tenant and new jobs to re-energize the old Husqvarna building in Beatrice.
The company is called Rare Earth Solar and it will make panels for solar energy using technology developed at the University of Nebraska. The owner says they'll hire 100 workers by next year, and that's just the beginning.
The co–founders met several years ago at the University of Nebraska where a doctoral student there had developed new technology to make solar panels. They became a company last fall and say within the next five years they could become the largest employer in all of Gage county. Allen Kruse serves as CEO for Rare Earth Solar and says it starts with at least 100 jobs by next summer. He says, “I wouldn't even want to speculate at this point what that number would be but it definitely would be much larger. I can confidently say that it would if not make us the largest employer in Gage county, it would be close.”
Kruse partnered with the University of Nebraska and its Nutech Ventures Program to create Rare Earth Solar, a manufacturing company that's set to open its doors in Beatrice. It's the first of its kind in the entire state and an opportunity to light the way for Nebraska. Kruse says, “I don't know if we try and convince Nebraskans that we have to go solar for Nebraskans. I would like to see Nebraska become a chief exporter in renewable energy.”
The name Rare Earth Solar may be deceivingly. The materials are actually mined in the ground and available as nearby as Elk Creek. Kruse says, “We're using materials that nobody else is using. We're using materials that are vastly abundant and very inexpensive.”
The company plans to partner with Southeast Community College to create a job training program and keep hiring locally. Kruse says even in a tough economy, the solar market is growing at an extremely rapid rate.
There is still a ways to go for the company. No money has exchanged hands yet for the Husqvarna building and the company still needs to get certain certifications, but Kruse says the technology is ready to go and they have a lot of interest.