SKC be­gins on phase two of ex­pan­sion

The Covington News - - THE SECOND FRONT - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­

Lo­cal in­dus­try SKC re­cently be­gan con­struc­tion on the sec­ond phase of a pre­vi­ously an­nounced $100 mil­lion ex­pan­sion at its Cov­ing­ton fa­cil­ity.

The com­pany is con­struct­ing a new build­ing and adding a new polyester film man­u­fac­tur­ing line, which will boost the com­pany’s core busi­ness.

SKC pre­vi­ously said it ex­pected to cre­ate 50 jobs in the sec­ond phase, but Tom Gray, vice pres­i­dent of op­er­a­tions, said the num­ber of jobs will be fi­nal­ized in the fourth quar­ter of 2013 as the new line is ex­pected to be up and run­ning by the sec­ond quar­ter of 2014.

Hir­ing is ex­pected to be­gin in mid-to-late 2013, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease. Lo­cal of­fi­cials pre­vi­ously said the jobs would have a salary range of $35,000 to $100,000 with an av­er­age wage of $43,000. Gray said the com­pany cur­rently em­ploys 350 em­ploy­ees in ad­di­tion to out­side con­trac­tors.

Polyester film is the com­pany’s core busi­ness, and its prod­ucts, in­clud­ing its patented Sky­rol prod­uct, are used in many in­dus­trial ap­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing mag­netic coat­ing, pack­ag­ing, graph­ics, elec­tric in­su­la­tion, ca­pac­i­tors and many other in­dus­trial uses in­clud­ing stamp­ing foil and ther­mal trans­fer rib­bon.

The new line will com­plete SKC’s pre­vi­ously an­nounced $100 mil­lion ex­pan­sion, which was an­nounced in late 2010 when the com­pany de­cided to en­ter the so­lar panel field.

Phase one in­volved the con­struc­tion of two manu- fac­tur­ing lines to pro­duce ethy­lene vinyl ac­etate film, which en­cap­su­lates the so­lar cells of so­lar pan­els to pro­tect them from con­tam­i­na­tion and phys­i­cal im­pacts. Those lines were up and run­ning on Sept. 15, 2011. The so­lar panel film busi­ness was ex­pected to em­ploy around 70 work­ers.

Although they were an­nounced to­gether, Gray said the two phases rep­re­sent two sep­a­rate busi­ness in­vest­ments.

Lo­cal of­fi­cials pre­vi­ously es­ti­mated that the fully builtout plant would bring in an ad­di­tional $5.2 mil­lion in an­nual ad valorem tax.

Though SKC’s U.S. head­quar­ters are lo­cated at its 389acre cam­pus on Hazel­brand Road in Cov­ing­ton, lo­cal gov­ern­ments still com­peted to land SKC’s ex­pan­sion. Each phase of the project re­ceives a seven-year tax abate­ment plan un­der the in­cen­tives agree­ment reached be­tween SKC and the New­ton County In­dus­trial Devel­op­ment Author­ity. The first three years of each plan will be tax free, while the ad­di­tional four years will be phased in at a 25 per­cent tax rate in­crease per year. SKC was pro­jected to save a to­tal of $6 mil­lion in taxes over the life of the project. The state also re­port­edly of­fered a multi-mil­lion tax in­cen­tive.

Author­ity at­tor­ney Frank Turner Jr. said in late 2010 that there are sev­eral per­for­mance guar­an­tees that SKC must meet in or­der to get the full lo­cal in­cen­tive package. One guar­an­tee was that SKC must start phase two within three years of the fin­ish of phase one.

SKC, a South Korean-based com­pany, ini­tially an­nounced it was lo­cat­ing in Cov­ing­ton in 1996 and be­gan op­er­a­tions in 1999 and has ex­panded its op­er­a­tions since then. In 2010, the com­pany opened a polyurethane sys­tems plant. Polyurethane foam is used as cush­ion for car seats and fur­ni­ture and as in­su­la­tion for homes, re­frig­er­a­tors and other ap­pli­ances.

The plant was part of an ag­gres­sive ex­pan­sion cam­paign by SKC called “Dou­ble SKC.” Chair­man Shin Won Choi said the com­pany was once again set­ting an ex­am­ple for the world and Con­sulate Gen­eral Hae Jin Chun said th­ese two Cov­ing­ton plants were the be­gin­ning of a new era for SKC.

As for any con­tin­ued plans for ex­pan­sion, Gray said it was too soon to spec­u­late at this time.

“SKC Inc.’s long-term goal is to con­tinue to rein­vest in our busi­ness as mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties present them­selves,” he said.

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