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MonoSol expanding water-soluble films production in Indiana

By: Michael Lauzon

June 30, 2014

MonoSol LLC has chosen Portage, Ind., for its next water-soluble films expansion project.

MonoSol said it will spend $95 million on the new facility in Portage. The project’s first phase, to be completed in late 2016, will hike the firm’s polyvinyl alcohol films capacity by 15 percent, MonoSol announced June 27, the day it broke ground on the plant.

MonoSol spokeswoman Gail Kemper said in a telephone interview the expansion is spurred by increasing demand for all water-soluble films. The company has said previously that single-dose cleaning products for laundry and other markets have been growing rapidly. Other single-dose markets include agricultural chemicals and industrial products.

MonoSol has been making water-soluble films in Portage since 1953 but its original plant there has no room for expansion, so the company decided to build a new factory. The first two phases of the 300,000-square-foot greenfield plant will cost $65 million to build and equip. Phase two’s completion date is slated for 2017 while the third and final phase should be done in 2020.

“As a member of the global Kuraray team, we examined locations in several continents for this expansion,” stated MonoSol CEO P. Scott Bening in a news release. Portage beat out several European locations and sites in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin because of the firm’s history in the city and relationships with suppliers, natural resource availability, skilled workforce and government support, Bening explained. MonoSol last autumn said it was looking for a site for expansion.

The Portage project will create more than 150 jobs when it is fully complete. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is offering up to $1.58 million in performance-based tax credits. The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority will provide a no-interest, securitized forgivable loan and the city of Portage will provide additional incentives. Oklahoma-based Ross Group has been hired to build the new Portage facility.

Portage Mayor James E. Snyder said MonoSol’s commitment to the city’s youth training will help the company’s recruitment activities and help students find quality jobs.

Kemper said the Portage investment is separate from a PVA films expansion underway at La Porte, Ind. Several water-soluble film production lines are being added in La Porte. The $39-million program should be done in early 2015 and will eventually add about 100 jobs to the La Porte site which employed about 400 before the expansion.

MonoSol, headquartered in Merrillville, Ind., also produces water-soluble films in Hartlebury, England, where it also is expanding capacity.

MonoSol joined Tokyo-based specialty chemical major Kuraray Co. Ltd. in 2012 and is the main business of Kuraray’s WS Film division.