Kinston Plant to Expand Years After Explosion

Posted October 26, 2007

— West Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: WST) will expand its production plant in Kinston, the first growth at a facility destroyed by fire in 2003 and rebuilt the following year.

In an announcement made Friday, West Pharmaceuticals Chairman and Chief Executive Donald Morel said the firm would invest $18.7 in the plant over the next three years.

The state will provide the company with a $300,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund, an economic development fund that requires local matching money.

West Pharmaceuticals will also donate a 29-acre parcel to the Global Transpark in Kinston, a company spokeswoman told The plant is located in a business park near the facility.

"Today's groundbreaking marks an important milestone for West and symbolizes our appreciation for the support of the city of Kinston, Lenoir County and the state of North Carolina,” Morel said in a statement.

“Our decision to expand in Kinston recognizes the value of our Kinston work force and the positive economic climate created by Gov. (Mike) Easley and his team in North Carolina,” he said. “We thank our current employees for their support and dedication and are confidant that the additions to the Kinston workforce over the next three years will be an equally valuable resource for the company."

Average wages for the new jobs is $665 plus benefits, the governor’s office said. The average weekly wage in Lenoir County is $506 plus benefits.

"We've lost a lot of jobs, so we appreciate any jobs that come here," Kinston City Manager Scott Stevens said. "We have a pretty diverse manufacturing base, West being one of those unique things in our manufacturing community. They're a good water, sewer and electric customer, so that's good for us as a city. But they're a good employer in our community, so that really is important to us."

The Kinston plant was destroyed in a Jan. 29, 2003, explosion that killed six workers and injured more than 40. Investigators determined that combustible dust inside the plant ignited, causing the fire.

The state Department of Labor fined West Pharmaceuticals $400,000 after the explosion, citing deficiencies in the plant design, two electrical systems and employee training.

The company rebuilt the plant and reopened in early 2004.

Based in Lionville, Pa., West Pharmaceuticals manufactures components and systems for injectable drug delivery and for blood collection. The company operates plants in North and South America, Europe, Mexico, Japan, Asia and Australia.


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • richard2 Oct 27, 2007

    What are you going to do for the other bussiness's already located there? Its not fair to to give to one and not to another.

  • smitty Oct 26, 2007

    Hooray for corporate welfare.

  • BlueHeaven27599 Oct 26, 2007

    Another grant for minimum wage jobs. Brilliant! The only ones getting money here are the big cats. They'll probably lay people off within five years after opening.

  • itsnews2me Oct 26, 2007

    "West is also donating a 29-acre parcel to the Global Transpark in Kinston."

    Wonderful...29 more acres to sit idle in that boondoggle.

  • MyKidRox Oct 26, 2007

    I certainly hope that West Pharmaceuticals has used a large chunk of their earnings to compensate Jim Edwards for his injuries received in the blast that almost took his life and left him blinded. I have wondered how he and his father Red were getting since Jim went home from the hospital. It was very heart-warming to see the two of them profiled on WRAL. A father's true love for his son is a great thing to see. How about an update, WRAL?? We need more stories like that. Jim's a true hero.

  • drnc Oct 26, 2007

    Thank you, Mr. Morel.

  • IHave1-2 Oct 26, 2007

    I'm glad to see West recovering and now growing. This will be excellent for Kinston and surrounding areas.