The future is looking bright for one Howard County-based solar company.
Astrum Solar announced Tuesday that it plans to expand its Annapolis Junction headquarters and add 240 new jobs over the next three years, bringing its total number of employees in the state to 315.
The company, a subsidiary of Houston-based Direct Energy, which purchased Astrum Solar in July, plans to grow by more than double every year for the foreseeable future and has "committed to Howard County as its headquarters," where it's built up an expert staff over the past eight years, said Cory Byzewski, Astrum Solar's vice president.
Byzewski said his company's job growth could be even stronger "depending on how successful the solar maket is in Maryland." Astrum Solar has offices in other states, including Delaware, Virginia, California and New York.
The new jobs will run the gamut from administrative positions to electricians, installers and system designers, he said.
Astrum Solar's growth will be boosted by a $500,000 conditional loan from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and a reimbursable workforce training grant of up to $50,000 from the Howard County Economic Development Authority.
"Astrum Solar is making the kind of investment in you and in Maryland that we all appreciate and want to have happen," Department of Business and Economic Development Deputy Secretary Benjamin Wu told a roomful of the company's new employees at a training session Tuesday at the Hilton DoubleTree Hotel near Baltimore Washington International Airport.
The solar company also plans to triple the footprint of its Annapolis Junction headquarters, expanding the 14,000-square foot building by another 28,000 square feet, and to spend about $750,000 on upgrades, including leasehold improvements and new equipment.
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman called the announcement "exciting.
"You're part of life-changing events," he told the group of new employees. "The future of our country, the future jobs are what you're doing."