An alternative energy company in Alameda County that was paid a visit last year by President Obama is closing up shop.
Solyndra is shutting down its Fremont operation and is planning to file for bankruptcy, according to a statement from the company.
Approximately 1,100 full-time and temporary employees who worked for the solar products manufacturing company were abruptly told Wednesday morning they no longer have a job.
Founded in 2005, Solyndra’s Fremont facility encompasses approximately 800,000 square feet. The company has offices in the United States, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and France, according to its website.
In May 2010, President Obama visited the plant and touted it as "a testament to American ingenuity and dynamism," according to media reports.
The company received stimulus dollars as part of a $535 million federal loan guarantee in 2009 in addition to venture capital support, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The funding couldn't keep the company afloat.
"Regulatory and policy uncertainties in recent months created significant near-term excess supply and price erosion," said Brian Harrison, CEO and president of Solyndra, in a press release.
"Raising incremental capital in this environment was not possible. This was an unexpected outcome and is most unfortunate."
Robert Marsella worked at Solyndra for more than two years. The engineering program manager said he and other workers first noticed something amiss when they couldn't access their company email accounts on Tuesday night.
Things became more ominious on Wednesday. Marsella was commuting from his San Francisco home when a vendor told him he wasn't allowed to enter the Solyndra property. He was also contacted by worried co-workers.
"At that point, we knew something was fishy," he said.
When Marsella arrived at the Fremont facility, he and others were taken to the Human Relations Department. They were given a packet, explaining what was happening.
There were also "all-hands meetings" during the day for different shifts.
Marsella said he had heard over the past few months that Solyndra was looking for additional funding. However, he thought any financial constraints would happen next year.
"Today's occurrences were totally out of the blue," he said.
Marsella said the reaction at the Fremont facility ranged from employees who took the news in stride to those who were visibly upset.
"It's a disappointment. We had a great thing going," said Marsella. "I worked with a lot of talented people. It would have been nice to see the company take off like many of us hoped it would."
Marsella added the plant closure could have an adverse effect on some of the Obama administration's plans for jobs and green technology.
"The industry as a whole took a hit today," he said.
Marsella noted he is in a better position than some of his former co-workers. He's 29, single and has been in contact with other firms in the business.
On Thursday, state Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Hayward, called Solyndra’s treatment of its 1,100 workers a "violation of public trust." She pointed to the company’s receipt of $535 million in federal funds that was supposed to help Solyndra compete in the global marketplace.
“It’s outrageous that Solyndra locked out 1,100 employees without any warning, leaving them with nowhere to go,” said Hayashi. “This is unacceptable for a corporation that received $535 million in government funds at a time when we are cutting health care for seniors and children. It’s a violation of federal and state law when you squander taxpayer money and then treat workers in such a disgraceful manner.”
Under federal and state law, businesses undertaking a mass layoff are required to give the employees at least 60 days advance notice. By ignoring the law, Hayashi said, Solyndra did not allow employees any time to prepare for their job loss, such as seeking other employment and reconsidering major financial decisions.