Solvay plans Willow Island expansion

$70M investment, 30 to 40 jobs over three years

From left, David Fenton, site manager at Solvay’s Willow Island Site; Pleasants County Commissioner Larry Barnhart; Jeff Maley, vice president of operations for Technology Solutions of the Solvay Group; Carl Guthrie, executive director of the Pleasants County Economic Development Authority; County Commissioner Jim Cottrill; and Commissioner Jay Powell stand in front of the sign for Solvay’s Willow Island Site this week before discussing the planned $70 million expansion at the facility, which is expected to create an additional 30 to 40 jobs. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

From left, David Fenton, site manager at Solvay’s Willow Island Site; Pleasants County Commissioner Larry Barnhart; Jeff Maley, vice president of operations for Technology Solutions of the Solvay Group; Carl Guthrie, executive director of the Pleasants County Economic Development Authority; County Commissioner Jim Cottrill; and Commissioner Jay Powell stand in front of the sign for Solvay’s Willow Island Site this week before discussing the planned $70 million expansion at the facility, which is expected to create an additional 30 to 40 jobs. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

WILLOW ISLAND — Less than two years after completing a purchase of the Cytec facility on West Virginia 2, Solvay announced plans this week to double its production capacity.

The expansion, for which construction is planned to start in the next month or two, is expected to create 30 to 40 jobs in the next three years, said Jeff Maley, vice president of operations for Technology Solutions, part of the Solvay Group.

“We’re doing multiple expansions that will total about $70 million over the next two to three years, mainly to support our polymer additives line,” he said.

The Willow Island site was under consideration even before the purchase was completed and beat out other locations in Europe and China, Maley said.

“The pros of coming to Willow Island outweighed the pros of the other sites,” he said. “It was a better financial package by having the expansion here.”

Factors included the existing supply chain and financial incentives offered by both Pleasants County and the state of West Virginia, Maley said.

“We’re just tickled to death to even have them consider this site,” said Carl Guthrie, executive director of the Pleasants County Economic Development Authority.

The Willow Island site is the only place where Solvay produces its high molecular weight hindered amine light stabilizers (HALS), said David Fenton, Willow Island site manager. The products provide ultraviolet light stabilization, among other properties, to extend the life and performance of plastics in outdoor conditions and applications, according to a release from the company.

Solvay plans to build a second, fully independent high molecular weight HALS manufacturing unit at the site, the release says. It’s expected to be operational by mid-2019.

“As the leading global specialty HALS supplier, this investment is a commitment to our customers, giving them the peace of mind that comes with surety of supply and added confidence to continue to innovate new and novel solutions for their own customers,” Domenico Romanino, senior vice president, Additive Technologies, said in the release.

It also provides some peace of mind for Pleasants County’s leaders and residents.

“We’re thrilled that they’re committed to us for the long term,” said Jody Murphy, executive director of the Pleasants Area Chamber of Commerce.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said in the release that Solvay’s investment “sends a signal that West Virginia is a good place to do business.

“This achievement is the result of the outstanding teamwork between Solvay, our Development Office, the West Virginia Economic Development Authority, the Pleasants County Development Authority and the Pleasants County Commission,” Justice said. “We thank Solvay for their confidence in the Mountain State and the creation of additional jobs.”

Maley said the new jobs were already advertised and a hiring pool has been established.

The West Virginia Development Office assisted Solvay in seeking statutory tax credits for which it is eligible and has also committed training resources through the Governor’s Guaranteed Work Force Program, said Jordan H. Ferrell, director of accounts and client relations with the West Virginia Department of Commerce.

Details on the incentives Pleasants County offered were not available Tuesday.

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