Above: REGENXBIO President and CEO Ken Mills cuts the ribbon to celebrate the opening of the company’s Manufacturing Innovation Center in Rockville, Maryland
As U.S. manufacturers continue to contend with shortages of critical materials, more companies are stepping up to shorten the supply chain, investing billions in U.S. manufacturing. This month, we saw the establishment of the first rare earth materials manufacturing facility in the U.S., filling a critical gap in the nation’s electronics supply chain. Meanwhile, multiple announcements were made across a wide range of industries, including the biotech, transportation, defense, food and packaging sectors.
Let's explore some of the most exciting manufacturing enterprises announced this month.
Virginia received some welcome news this month when LEGO Group announced plans to establish a massive $1 billion manufacturing facility in Meadowville. The new plant will encompass 1.7 million square feet and employ 1,760 in Chesterfield County.
Niels B. Christiansen, CEO of the LEGO Group, said, “We were impressed with all that Virginia has to offer, from access to a skilled workforce, support for high-quality manufacturers, and great transport links. We appreciate support for our ambition to build a carbon-neutral run facility and construct a solar park and are looking forward to building a great team with support from the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program.”
This will be Denmark-based Lego Group’s first manufacturing plant in the United States and its seventh facility worldwide. The new facility will use state-of-the-art technology to mold, process and pack its famous building bricks.
In Delaware, Fujifilm Imaging Colorants, Inc. celebrated the grand opening of its first dispersion manufacturing facility in the United States. The new site, located in New Castle, represents a $19 million investment, and will be dedicated to producing aqueous ink inkjet dispersions. Encompassing 8,100 square feet, the facility will create 21 jobs, adding to the company’s existing 40,000 square-foot site that employs 90.
“It’s an exciting day for Fujifilm,” said Ian Wilkinson, president and chief operating officer, FUJIFILM Imaging Colorants, Inc. “I am proud that we have been able to deliver this brand-new production facility according to our original plan, despite the challenges that the pandemic presented us with, and we’re here to celebrate that today. We extend our heartfelt thanks to all who were a part of this project, from our own teams to our vendors and local and state dignitaries. I have no doubt that this expansion will continue to create significant growth opportunities for both Fujifilm and the customers we serve.”
Canada-based HydroGraph Clean Power, Inc., a producer of nanomaterials and alternative-energy fuels, celebrated the opening of its new 13,000 square-foot plant this month in Manhattan, Kansas. The new facility will use its patented Hyperion detonation process to produce standard fractal graphene, which is an additive supermaterial used to boost strength, water resistance and electrical conductivity. The site will also manufacture reactive graphene, which can chemically combine with other products.
“The completion of our new facility marks a key milestone in the revolution of graphene production and commercialization from lab to market,” said Stuart Jara, HydroGraph chief executive officer. “The HydroGraph process produces 99.8% pure graphene in identical batches with the lowest environmental footprint, striking at the heart of what’s needed to make graphene the world’s first 2D material discovered.”
Meanwhile, in Georgia, Kubota North America announced plans to expand its existing operations in Gainsville, with a new $140 million plant. The facility, which will expand capacity for the company’s loaders for the North American market, is slated to be fully operational by 2024 and will employ 500.
Kubota North America is the parent company for Kubota Tractor Corporation and Kubota Industrial Equipment and produces lawn & garden tractors as well as recreational vehicles.
“Today’s announcement is yet another example of our collaborative efforts with the State of Georgia to establish Gainesville as a major manufacturing hub for our North America operations,” said Mr. Shingo Hanada, President and CEO for Kubota Tractor Corporation and Kubota North America. “This is an exciting time of unprecedented growth for our company, as this new investment comes right on the heels of the grand opening of our new R&D facility in Gainesville, both of which emphasize our commitments to our dealers and customers to improve operational efficiencies and realize manufacturing excellence across all areas of our business.”
In South Carolina, Astellas Pharma, Inc. celebrated the grand opening of a new large-scale gene therapy manufacturing facility in Sanford. The new 135,000 square-foot plant will support commercial-scale manufacturing of adeno-associated vectors for gene therapies. The new $100 million facility will employ more than 200.
"Our new manufacturing facility symbolizes our company's continued dedication to the advancement of novel life-changing gene therapies for patients with severe diseases and a significant unmet need, as well as our commitment to the Sanford community," said Mathew Pletcher, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Division Head of Gene Therapy Research and Technical Operations at Astellas Gene Therapies.
Meanwhile, in Maryland, biotech company REGENXBIO, celebrated the grand opening of a new gene therapy manufacturing facility in Rockville. The new $65 million plant will produce end-to-end NAV Technology-based AAV gene therapies and is an addition to the company’s 132,000 square-foot headquarters.
"In-house manufacturing is a key differentiator for REGENXBIO as a leader in gene therapy," said Curran Simpson, Chief Operations and Technology Officer at REGENXBIO. "Quality manufacturing is crucial to all stages of AAV gene therapy development, and we're extremely proud of this cutting-edge facility and the experienced team we have to lead these efforts. Bringing our manufacturing in-house allows us to control the process from beginning to end and provides flexibility to support a wide range of clinical and commercial needs."
Also this month, DuPont celebrated the opening of its new Liveo™ manufacturing site in Cooper River, South Carolina. The new facility will expand the company’s biopharma processing tubing manufacturing capabilities.
DuPont Liveo™ specializes in biopharmaceutical processing and pharmaceutical solutions and produces a wide range of medical devices.
“The biopharma processing manufacturing investment at Cooper River is a key milestone in our growth strategy; it supports our customers’ expansion and contributes to business continuity,” said DuPont Healthcare & Specialty Lubricants Global Business Director Eugenio Toccalino. “We’re committed to investing in our healthcare business, and our recent expansions help us offer a highly reliable and sustainable product supply.”
In Oklahoma, USA Rare Earth announced the establishment of the nation’s first integrated rare earth metal and sintered neo-magnetic manufacturing facility, which will begin operations in Stillwater. The new $100 million manufacturing facility will convert rare earth oxides into metals, magnets and other specialty materials.
Rare earth metals are used in the manufacture of electric vehicles, wind turbines, electronic devices, and military hardware, and are a critical component of the electronic supply chain.
The new facility will employ 100 and is expected to start production in 2023.
“Currently, the United States, European Union, Japan, and much of the developed world is largely reliant on China for critical rare earth element production,” said Thayer Smith, president of USA Rare Earth. “Our goal with this project is to advance U.S. manufacturing capacity by establishing the first vertically integrated domestic supply chain for rare earth elements, and we are excited to be working in Oklahoma.”
In Upstate New York, Premier Packaging Corporation (PPC) celebrated the grand opening of its new 105,000 square-foot facility in Henrietta. PPC, which supplies paper board packaging to photo finishing, food packaging and medical device companies, will allow the company to fulfill greater demand for its products. The new operation is expected to create 37 new jobs.
Premier Packaging Corporation President and DSS Chief Operating Officer, Jason Grady said, “We are grateful to ESD for providing Premier with an opportunity to advance our business. As a multinational company, we had several options when considering a new location, but with the help of ESD, we are able to continue to call this area home and excited to begin operations in our new state-of-the-art facility in Henrietta.”
In Texas, chemical products manufacturer MAPEI Corporation announced the acquisition of a new facility in Houston for the production of powders and admixtures. Once operational in 2023, the new facility will employ 80.
“This Houston facility joins our Garland facility, expanding our Texas footprint and allowing us to serve our customers across the South, West and Central United States even more efficiently,” Said Luigi Di Geso, President and CEO of MAPEI Corporation.
Heading over to Alabama, Lockheed Martin announced plans to establish a $16.5 million facility to support missile defense at its existing campus in Huntsville. The new 25,000 square foot facility will be used to develop Lockheed’s Next Generation Interceptor Program in Huntsville, which uses digital tools to protect the nation against missile threats.
Said Sara Reeves, Vice President of the Next Generation Interceptor Program, “Lockheed Martin has had a presence in the Huntsville community since 1963, and the new facility adds to our advanced portfolio to ensure engineering rigor through ground testing and integration, validating our approach well before we flight test.”
Lockheed is expected to add 200 employees to its existing operations in Alabama, which currently employ 2,700 workers across the state.
In Illinois, global confectionary manufacturer Ferrero, announced plans to invest $214 million at its facility in Bloomington, expanding capacity to produce its Kinder Bueno premium chocolate bar. The expanded facility will add another 169,000 square feet to its existing facility.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia-based Stockwell Elastomerics, a provider of custom high performance gaskets and gasket materials, announced an expansion of its silicone molding capacity, resulting in a 20% capacity increase.
The company’s Molding Business expansion adds 9 new manufacturing jobs, as well as 4 engineers, and the purchase of new injection molding machines and automation/mixing units.
“Stockwell Elastomerics is committed to having a wide range of fabrication and molding capability and capacity to service our technology sector customers. We believe this sets us apart from many companies of our size,” noted William Stockwell, the Chairman and Chief Technology Officer of Stockwell Elastomerics.
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