Big land deal lands 470 news jobs in Whitfield County

Hanwha plans expansion on solar cell facility in Dalton; buys plot of land for $171 million

DALTON (WDEF) – Back in 1986, Timbuk 3 released a song called “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.”

It’s 36 years later, and Whitfield County is subscribing to that mantra, now that a company has a deal to expand its facilities in Dalton.

Hanwha, a company already in Dalton that makes solar cells called QCells, is planning an expansion.

Whitfield County sold a plot of land to the company for $171 million, bringing 470 new, permanent jobs to the area.

Jevin Jensen, the Whitfield County Commission Chair, tells News 12 “We want to diversify our economy. We’re a manufacturing hub, and that’s not going to change, but we need to depend on other industries, not just the floor covering and housing industries. So, to get into solar and the green energy revolution that’s really going around the world was key, and so they can expand it and to further diversify our job base and our economy is fantastic.”

The deal is so good that both U.S. Senators from Georgia touted the success. Sen. Jon Ossoff says, “I’m doing everything that I can with my authority at the federal level to attract these jobs and investments to our state to make Georgia the world leader in renewable energy, manufacturing and innovation, and to make all this technology more accessible for working families and small businesses.”

Ossoff says he sat down with company leaders in Seoul, South Korea to help make this deal happen.

These jobs aren’t minimum wage positions, either. Whitfield County leadership made sure of it.

Jensen: “We are really focused on higher-paying jobs, so they need to be above our median pay. These are in the 18 to 19 dollar (an hour) range. I’m pushing them to get to 20, but they’re not quite there yet. But that’s still above our median per capita income that we have in Whitfield County. It will improve our income, (and) provide some good paying jobs.”

Hanwha has been in Dalton since construction began on its original facility back in 2018. This deal shows the partnership between company and county is not only good, but thriving.

Jensen says, “It’s a win-win for the company and the county, but this will be the first time that we’ve actually sold property and be able to recover our costs, and I want to give that back to the taxpayers.”

Because of Whitfield County’s original investment into Hanwha’s coming to Dalton, Jensen plans to push the County Commission to allow a certain amount of the money from the land deal to be given back to taxpayers as a thank you.

So, a county resident can get a job and a rebate. Not bad if you can get it.

Categories: Dalton, Featured, Jobs & Economy, Local News, Whitfield County