February 2014

Promise of New Jobs, Education in Halifax County

Georg Veit and County Manager Tony Brown discuss solar project Georg Veit and County Manager Tony Brown discuss solar project The Daily Herald

The addition of Geenex Solar, along with its Solar Center of Excellence, to Halifax County’s industry list is promising new jobs and education for interested residents.

Company CEO 31-year-old Georg Veit said Geenex is in the process of converting the former Roanoke Rapids Airport into a 252-acre solar farm with an education and training facility called the Solar Center of Excellence.

Veit said the solar power generation site will utilize one of the most reliable systems in the industry and sell the energy it produces to Dominion Power, but he sees this site being so much more than just for power generation.

He said he feels in the embodiment of the former airport site there was a time when it was vital to the area, and he looks forward to that being the case again.

He said he looks forward to a time when it becomes a vital part of community life, and brings visitors from across the nation.

“It’s a many fold type of center,” he said. “We want it to bring people there. We want it to be part of the community, a place to do something, maybe wander around and meet people and talk about what’s going on in the world.”  He said the Solar Center will have a life of its own and it will be the driver for future development in Halifax County and beyond. Sustainable curriculums will be developed there and it will be a place where trainees will get hands-on experience in a safe environment.

Veit said this will be accomplished through partnerships with local schools, the community college and state universities.

From the operations base at the Center, he said people will be able to monitor solar facilities in places across the country.

Veit said in order for that to happen, solar energy has to make sense to people, and they need to understand why these shifts are happening.

He said that’s why the Center of Excellence will also house a place for visitors to see displays on how solar energy works.

He said his company plans to expand and will develop other partnerships throughout the United States, but the Halifax County site will be at the core of Geenex operations.

“This will be the heart,” he said, adding his company has intentions of being a quality neighbor in the community.

“We don’t want to be a stranger-neighbor. We want to be that guy you can go knock on his door and have a barbecue with,” he said.

Born in Germany, Veit said solar energy has been around a long time in his country — it’s almost over developed.

He said his company is excited about the opportunity to bring that German know-how to the States and help people in the Roanoke Valley benefit from what it has to offer.

“We want to bring our solar experience and partners, and start something from scratch and apply our successes here,” he said.

Veit said there are plenty of ways to look at the profitability of solar energy, but if one simply looks at sunshine, the Roanoke Valley is the place to be.

“North Carolina is now the second largest market for solar after California, and we want to bring it to Halifax County,” he said.

Veit, who is originally from Herne, Germany, said he can relate to the Roanoke Valley in many ways. His town, which has a rich history, was primarily dependant on the coal and steel industry during the 1800s and 1900s. But those industries shut down, leaving only a shell.

“I can remember when they didn’t have a movie theater,” he said.

He said as recently as the 1990s, his town revitalized with new companies and new technology, and converted the old buildings into museums and places of culture. He’d like to see that happen here.

Veit said he appreciates the Southern hospitality he’s received in coming to the Roanoke Valley, and the help received from the Halifax County Economic Development Commission.

Of the Commission’s Executive Director Cathy Scott, he said, “She was our angel along the way.”

He said the company plans to open the facility this summer.

Last modified on February 2014