Sharp to End Solar Panel Production in Memphis

By Bill Dries

Sharp Corp. will stop making solar panels at its Memphis manufacturing plant by the end of March, leaving more than 300 employees out of a job.

The company's notice to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development says 311 workers will lose their jobs as of March 22.

Greater Memphis Chamber senior vice president Dexter Muller said there should be demand for those on the Sharp assembly line who are “experienced manufacturing employees."

”The chamber will begin working with the local Workforce Investment Network to identify the Sharp workers who will be laid off,and we intend to ask the employees if they are willing to allow us to make referrals to other companies,” he said. “We’ll start matching them up with the jobs we know are out there and start referring them to those companies’ human resources departments.

A Bloomberg report quotes Sharp spokesperson Miyuki Nakayama as saying the solar panel shutdown is part of a restructuring of Sharp’s solar panel business, specifically the company’s production capacity.

The The Sharp plant, the first major foreign investment in Memphis manufacturing, opened in the late 1970s. When the plant opened it made televisions. That changed to microwave ovens and solar panels as Sharp moved the television assembly jobs to Mexico. The Memphis plant currently employs about 450.

Reporter Amos Maki contributed to this story.