Encouraged by Iowa's incentive program for business development, Oral-B Laboratories will spend $30 million to expand its Iowa City, Iowa, plant to manufacture a new line of plastic toothbrushes.
A business unit of Boston-based Gillette Co., Oral-B plans to acquire $26 million in new machinery and equipment, plus add 56,000 square feet of manufacturing space, according to Bob Henningsen, administrator of Iowa's Division of Business Development. Oral-B officials at the Iowa City plant and corporate headquarters in Belmont, Calif., did not respond to requests for more information.
Iowa's Commerce Department approved a $150,000 forgivable loan for the project, which will create 55 new jobs and retain 40 others, according to state development officials in a news release.
Henningsen said in a telephone interview that Oral-B's ``major modernization initiative'' qualifies for a number of state incentives, including property tax exemptions for as long as 20 years, a 10 percent investment tax credit, job training, and research and development tax credits. The company also will benefit from a decision last year by the Iowa Legislature to repeal its property taxes on the purchase of new machinery and equipment.
The firm's present Iowa City facility is about 200,000 square feet, Henningsen estimated. It is Oral-B's primary toothbrush plant. The company in 1996 formed a joint venture in Vietnam to produce toothbrushes, according to documents on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Those filings show that Oral-B reported record sales in 1996 of $547 million. Its corporate parent operates 64 facilities in 27 countries with annual sales of nearly $10 billion.