LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Zeon Chemicals L.P. aims to ensure the viability of its synthetic rubber plant in Louisville via an investment of about $3.5 million in the facility.
The wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo, Japan-based Zeon Corp. plans to upgrade the site's utility infrastructure and improve the facility's process controls, according to Bob Barlow, Zeon Chemicals' vice president of operations.
“These are separate projects and we have a three-year plan to complete them,” he said. The projects are aimed at increasing the plant's process automation for improved raw material and energy efficiencies.
Tax incentives totaling about $1.75 million from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority, a partnership of state and local units, will assist the company in completing the project, the company said.
Tax credits are available to Kentucky manufacturers that invest at least $2.5 million in equipment upgrades, a city of Louisville official said. The partnership includes Greater Louisville Inc., the Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Louisville metro government and the state government.
“We're grateful for the incentives approved by the KEFDA, which, combined with Zeon Chemicals' investment, will allow us to upgrade our Kentucky facility and maintain the manufacturing jobs this state needs,” Zeon Chemicals CEO Tom Gettelfinger said in a statement.
He noted that the company has a long history in the Louisville area—dating back to 1989 when it began production in the U.S. after purchasing the NBR business of BF Goodrich—“and by making these improvements, we can remain both competitive globally and strong locally.”
The Louisville facility also serves as the firm's U.S. headquarters, housing sales, marketing, research and development along with the production facility. It employs about 212.
Zeon Chemicals operates three U.S. plants, located in Louisville; Hattiesburg, Miss.; and Houston. All three produce oil- and heat-resistant specialty elastomers.
The Louisville plant makes specialty NBR and HyTemp polyacrylate rubber, while the Hattiesburg facility manufactures epichlorohydrin rubber under the Hydrin trademark and the Texas operation produces hydrogenated nitrile polymers under the Zetpol name.
Among the company's products are Chemisat hydrogenated elastomers in latex form, used in applications that require heat and oil resistance.