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 Starkville’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 SemiSouth’s investors, but he declined to specify the investor’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.
“(SemiSouth has an) energy-efficient product which allows our customers and consumers to save money on energy costs,” Casady said. “Our investors have strong resources to invest in products with growing markets like ours.”
Greater Starkville Development Partnership President Jon Maynard said Starkville stands to benefit from the expansion of jobs in the technology.
“It means they have confidence in the technology, confidence in the job market and confidence in the city of Starkville,” 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 “Silicon Carbide Valley” representing the future of electronics.
“SemiSouth has proven to be a leader in silicon carbide and semiconductor technology,” Maynard said. “As we look to grow Starkville, we are definitely looking for other companies that fill that niche with semiconductors and other technologies.”
In a press release, Dieter Liesabeths, SemiSouth senior vice president of sales and marketing, said SemiSouth’s reputation is only growing.
“SemiSouth 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,” Liesabeths said. “We have many customers in production with even more in development for our products in energy-sensitive markets.”