Ben Benvenuti, president of Commercial Plastics Recycling Inc., may not be ready to trade in Florida's sandy beaches for the hills of West Virginia, but the state's business climate is perfect for the PVC recycler in Tampa to expand its business. Thanks to West Virginia's Polymer Alliance Zone, a three-county business and government partnership set up to attract plastics businesses to the state, Commercial Plastics signs a lease May 15 on the location of its soon-to-be 40,000-square-foot recycling facility in Ravenswood, W.Va.
Construction will begin within 60 days, Benvenuti said.
CPR celebrated the grand opening of its 40,000-square-foot Tampa plant in December. Benvenuti expects the West Virginia plant to surpass that eventually — with encouragement and incentives from the consortium.
Partial funding for the $1.8 million project came from the West Virginia Development Authority, he said, which offset about 45 percent of the costs.
"They're bending over backwards to attract business in that area," Benvenuti said by telephone from his Florida plant.
One of CPR's main customers, Shell Chemical Co., had invited Benvenuti to consider opening a facility near Shell's PET resin plant in Point Pleasant, W.Va.
In Parkersburg, W.Va., another CPR customer, GE Plastics, produces ABS, and DuPont has a nylon production operation.
"I've been dealing with Shell for 10 years, and Shell felt comfortable inviting us to come take a look at the area," Benvenuti said. "The major benefit to both parties is there's a lot more opportunities to do other things they may have available locally — maybe packaging or other items now that they're not spending that much on freight."
CPR's main business will be reprocessing industrial scrap PET and ABS from Shell and GE, he said.
Shell's recent sale of its PET business — including the 628 million-pound-capacity plant in Point Pleasant — to Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi of Tortona, Italy, created an ideal opportunity for CPR.
"Because they're eliminating some of their positions, there's a lot of personnel with experience," he said. "Where they're cutting their costs, we're picking up some of these people and finding jobs for them."
Benvenuti expects his firm's sales to rise from its current $5 million a year to about $7 million once the expansion is under way.
Founded in 1996, the Polymer Alliance Zone's goal was to add 2,500 jobs in the state through expansions and new firms.
In 1998, Concepts West Corp. of Marietta, Ohio, was the first company to expand its resin cleaning business into West Virginia under PAZ.
In addition to the West Virginia move, CPR also announced the planned opening of a smaller-scale PVC and high density polyethylene recycling operation next month in Little Falls, N.J.