Berry Plastics Corp. is considering a $58 million expansion of its Lawrence, Kan., thermoforming plant that would bring in more equipment and jobs while allowing the firm to fine-tune processing with a system that will reduce its resin use.
The company would like to do the work at Lawrence; nevertheless, the expansion will go into place somewhere within Berry's holdings, said Chief Operating Officer Brent Beeler in a Dec. 29 telephone interview. The question is whether Lawrence will sign on to a tax abatement request that would help finance the work.
The Evansville, Ind.-based firm filed a request with the city seeking as much as a 90 percent tax abatement for the improvements to its PackerWare Corp. subsidiary.
Lawrence officials will consider the request beginning in early January, said Dave Corliss, assistant city manager.
The PackerWare facility turns out houseware products, food containers and drink cups. New technology investments by the company will allow it to make lighter-weight products with thinner walls, saving on overall resin costs, Beeler said.
If it goes ahead with the plan, Berry will expand the buildings in Lawrence and add equipment and an estimated 78 jobs within the first three years of the project. Additional jobs and capital equipment investments are expected during the fourth and fifth years.
The plant now employs nearly 400 and qualifies for a tax abatement of more than 55 percent of the value of its manufacturing equipment, Corliss said. Berry purchased PackerWare, a former competitor, in 1997.
The expansion, if approved, will begin in the third quarter of 2006.
Berry has alternative options for the new technology, including possibly building a new facility, according to Beeler. But Lawrence is one of the company's leading sites and the preferred location, he said.