NEWS DETAIL

Federal Grant to Help Saint-Gobain Expansion

BEAVERTON, Mich.—The small town of Beaverton received a $1.45 million federal infrastructure grant that will aid manufacturers in the region, including medical device maker Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics.

The work will support Saint-Gobain's $26 million expansion for pharmaceutical products, add land for two new businesses and remove naturally occurring rust from the water.

The award, which comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce, will be matched by $263,880 in local funds and is expected to create 70 jobs, retain 280 jobs and generate $20.1 million in private investment in the town dubbed the thermoforming capital of the world.

The town of 1,000 people in rural central Michigan has a rich history of polymer pioneers who got their starts at the nearby Dow Chemical Co. It includes thermoforming machinery makers Brown Machine LLC, Lyle Industries, Kal Plastics and Beaverton Plastics, as well as Saint-Gobain, which is Beaverton's largest employer with a work force of about 200.

Saint-Gobain manufactures components for its Pure-Fit, SaniTech and Tygon brand pharmaceutical products at the Beaverton Industrial Park, which is considered an opportunity zone under the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The act aims to spur economic growth as well as repatriate overseas income and bring tax relief to middle-income families.

The Beaverton project will improve road and water infrastructure, including construction of a treatment plant for removing iron ore from the water. Rusty water poses challenges for Beaverton businesses, particularly Saint-Gobain's growing pharmaceutical production, City Manager Heath Kaplan told local media.

The grant also will be used to reconstruct a meandering section of road to accommodate large trailer-trucks heading to docking bays at Saint-Gobain's expanding campus in Beaverton, which is part of the company's life sciences division.

Saint-Gobain began a $26 million expansion in the fall of 2018 that is increasing its Beaverton footprint to 148,000 square feet. The plans call for construction of an 88,000-sq.-ft. facility to increase capacity for extruding medical tubing and producing components and assemblies for its customers in the drug manufacturing business. The expansion is expected to create 60 jobs.

The growth is being driven by demand from customers switching from stainless steel products to disposable plastics and silicones as drugs become more specialized and individualized, Stephen Maddox, general manager for the life sciences unit of the performance plastics business, said at the 2018 groundbreaking.

Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics is part of Paris-based Cie de Saint-Gobain.