By STEVEN NALLEY
SemiSouth Laboratories in Starkville announced plans Monday to invest $18 million in new equipment, creating more than 100 new jobs over the next 18 months.
Located in Starkvilleâ€™s Thad Cochran Research Park, SemiSouth manufactures high-voltage silicon carbide semiconductors used in solar cells, wind turbines, hybrid and electric vehicles and high-efficiency power supplies. SemiSouth President Jeff Casady said the new equipment will allow SemiSouth to expand its capacity for shipping these semiconductors by up to 50 percent.
Casady said the $18 million comes from one of SemiSouthâ€™s investors, but he declined to specify the investorâ€™s name. The expansion is the second for SemiSouth in 18 months, following on a $30 million investment from Power Integrations in 2010 which allowed SemiSouth to grow from about 70 employees to its current 115.
Casady said SemiSouth has been able to expand rapidly in a challenging economy because of the strength of its investors and its product.
â€ś(SemiSouth has an) energy-efficient product which allows our customers and consumers to save money on energy costs,â€ť Casady said. â€śOur investors have strong resources to invest in products with growing markets like ours.â€ť
Greater Starkville Development Partnership President Jon Maynard said Starkville stands to benefit from the expansion of jobs in the technology.
â€śIt means they have confidence in the technology, confidence in the job market and confidence in the city of Starkville,â€ť Maynard said.
SemiSouth currently shares an incubator building in the research park with II-VI, which also specializes in silicon carbide technology. A new separate incubator for II-VI is currently under construction, and Maynard said II-VI is scheduled to move into its new home in May, freeing SemiSouth to expand into the space II-VI leaves behind.
For this reason, Casady said SemiSouth will not need to spend any of the $18 million on expanding the building to accommodate the new equipment and employees.
In the past, Maynard has described SemiSouth and II-VI as leading the way for Starkville to become a â€śSilicon Carbide Valleyâ€ť representing the future of electronics.
â€śSemiSouth has proven to be a leader in silicon carbide and semiconductor technology,â€ť Maynard said. â€śAs we look to grow Starkville, we are definitely looking for other companies that fill that niche with semiconductors and other technologies.â€ť
In a press release, Dieter Liesabeths, SemiSouth senior vice president of sales and marketing, said SemiSouthâ€™s reputation is only growing.
â€śSemiSouth is continuously being recognized by its customers for having world-record, cost-effective, energy-efficient power semiconductor electronic products based on our proprietary (silicon carbide) technology,â€ť Liesabeths said. â€śWe have many customers in production with even more in development for our products in energy-sensitive markets.â€ť