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Silfab Solar leaving Bellingham waterfront facility

Company to consolidate operations and staff in Burlington

Crates are stacked inside Silfab Solar's facility at 800 Cornwall Ave. on March 21 in Bellingham. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
By Frank Catalano Business & Work Columnist

Silfab Solar, a solar panel manufacturer based in Canada, is winding down its operations on the Bellingham waterfront in favor of a newer facility in Burlington.

Silfab Director of Marketing Lorraine Hoefler confirmed the change in an email, saying that over the past five years with the increased demand for its solar panels, “We quickly outgrew the available footprint in our Bellingham facility which initiated the expansion into the neighboring community of Burlington, WA in 2021.” 

Silfab originally moved into the 48,000-square-foot Bellingham building at 800 Cornwall Ave. in 2018 after acquiring the business of Itek Energy, which had been located on the same site. 

Hoefler said Silfab does not own the property or the building and was “moving into the last year of the lease.” Whatcom County Assessor records show the property at the address is owned by Pando Innovations, LLC of Henderson, Nevada, and was purchased from the Port of Bellingham in 2016.

From left, Whatcom County Deputy Executive Tyler Schroeder, Port Director Rob Fix and Port District 1 Commissioner Michael Shepard tour Silfab Solar on March 21. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

It’s not clear when Silfab did, or will, fully cease operations in Bellingham. Silfab representatives did not directly answer questions about an end date. 

“Silfab timed the transition to the industry seasonality and demand which corresponded with the winter months,” Hoefler said.

However, a visit to the Cornwall Avenue address on Thursday, March 28 didn’t show any signs of activity from the street, other than one or two people supervising the loading of several large, plain white semis at a loading dock at one end of the building. 

At the other end, in front of a gated and mostly empty parking lot, a large sign still read, “The Port of Bellingham is Proud to Welcome Silfab Solar, Largest Solar Manufacturer in North America to Bellingham’s Downtown Waterfront.”

A sign welcoming Silfab Solar to the Bellingham waterfront still stands facing the street at 800 Cornwall Ave. on Thursday, March 28. (Frank Catalano/Cascadia Daily News)

Silfab did not provide the specific number of employees affected. But, Hoefler said, “the Bellingham facility peaked at around 200 employees and all Bellingham employees were offered full-time positions in Burlington, however some individuals chose to explore other roles within Whatcom County rather than commute to Burlington.”

Silfab, with corporate offices near Toronto, entered Bellingham in 2018 to open its first U.S. manufacturing facility. In 2020, it announced it would invest at least $4 million to expand its Bellingham operations further with the assistance of the Washington State Department of Commerce and the state’s $250,000 economic development grant to the Port of Bellingham. 

“The Port was disappointed to learn Silfab Solar is shutting down its Bellingham operations,” said Mike Hogan, Port of Bellingham’s public affairs administrator. “There continues to be strong demand for industrial land and buildings in Whatcom County, so the Port is hopeful Silfab’s Bellingham facility will soon be reactivated with another job-creating industry.”

Burlington, however, has been growing. 

“The Burlington facility has now realized total manufacturing footprint of three module assembly lines with the appropriate facilitation and utilities to support a total of four lines,” Hoefler said. “The Burlington facility also offered significant upside of economies, scale and efficiency with a more modernized layout and footprint, allowing the operation to be much more market competitive than Bellingham could ever be.”

Hoefler added that Silfab appreciated the Bellingham community’s warm welcome and support throughout its time in the city, “and we remain incredibly thankful.”

In addition to continuing its operations at 1770 Port Drive in Burlington, Silfab has said it will expand in other parts of the U.S. The company announced in September 2023 that it would establish what was described as a “flagship operation” in Fort Mill, South Carolina. 

A previous version of a photo caption misidentified Whatcom County Deputy Executive Tyler Schroeder in a photo caption. The caption was updated to reflect this change on Friday, March 29 at 2:15 p.m. Cascadia Daily News regrets this error.

Frank Catalano is CDN’s business & work columnist; reach him at

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