Partner Profile: Anita Rajan Worden
Anita Rajan Worden
Growing a company that creates real jobs and opportunities for your neighbors today while also helping to develop an industry that will have lasting environmental impacts for generations to come is no easy feat. But that is exactly what Anita Rajan Worden is doing through her innovative solar inverter company, Yaskawa Solectria Solar, which has been headquartered in Lawrence since its founding in 2005. "We have a part to play in the economic future of a gateway city with a legacy of manufacturing, and that is an important part of our identity", asserts Anita. "Additionally, I love being in the renewable energy businesses because we are doing something that will benefit the environment we leave for our grandchildren, too."
When the company started 12 years ago, Anita and her husband, James, were fresh off of the sale of their first company-an electric car company-and the solar industry in the United States was still very much in its infancy. Through steady management, ideal timing, and a strategic partnership with Yaskawa (which formally acquired Solectria a couple years back, providing key backing in an industry quickly consolidating), Solectria Solar has now grown to employ over 200 people and occupy nearly 100,000 square foot in Lawrence's Riverwalk Properties.
Being an industry leader affords you many perks, among them the flexibility to locate your company in any host of locations. In the case of Anita and Solectria (the country's #1 supplier of solar inverters for commercial use) the decision to be in Lawrence was an intentional one. In addition to its close proximity to Anita's home and that of her co-founders, it is also a rich multi-cultural community, which offers access to an incredible diversity of workforce skill sets and commercial real estate. As a startup, it was the affordability that helped draw Solectria to Lawrence, but as a growing company it has been the various amenities co-located at Riverwalk, the skills and loyalty of the production and professional staff, and the city itself that has kept them here. "In Lawrence I see a city of hope; I see a lot of future here. It is still affordable and it is multicultural, which is richly rewarding and evident in every enterprise you go in. This is really the fabric of America, and one that is also a foundation of future opportunity."
This is a foundation that Anita understands well, having been raised in a tri-lingual household and coming to the United States as a 13 year old immigrant. "I was lucky enough to also learn English at home in addition to French and Tamil, but I can really empathize with so many in our community that do not yet have English proficiency to put their full skills to use, which represents a real uphill battle. That is why the Lawrence Partnership and what we do as an organization is so important; having non-profit leaders, business owners, politicians all working together and speaking the same language about how we move forward is important. Nobody can do it alone, but we can all make a difference together."