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A Tale of Two Industries


The convergence of two weighty North American industries—plastics and medical devices—has facilitated numerous healthcare advances. We bring you a sampling of locations that are helping these industries prosper.

The plastics and medical device industries each make substantial contributions to the North American economy. Together, these two industries have spawned the creation of other innovations such as plastic medical devices and home medical equipment. According to the American Chemical Society, demand is growing between 10% to 20% a year for the $1 billion a year plastic medical device industry. This growth has been fueled by rises in healthcare spending, higher life expectancy, and new innovations. In addition, a strong focus on R&D within the industry has led to numerous scientific and technological breakthroughs.

One increasingly important sector for plastics is the home medical equipment market, which includes assistive devices, therapeutic devices, monitors, sensors, and telemetry devices. The global market for home medical equipment was valued at $15 billion in 2007 and is set to rise to $20 billion in 2012, according to BCC Research, a company that produces market research reports and conferences. The United States and Canada make up the largest geographical market for home medical equipment, with around 34% of the global share. The sector is growing faster than any other major geographical market segment, with a projected growth rate of 8.6% over the next five years.

Another market tipping the scale is the plastic medical device packaging sector. Plastics packaging has proven indispensable in modern medical care, providing products such as see-through intravenous bags and break-resistant containers. According to a recent study by business research and consulting firm Frost and Sullivan, this sector earned $570 million in 2006 and is expected to reach $920 million by 2013.

With all this in mind, it seems great opportunities lie ahead for both the North American plastics and medical device industries, whose convergence promises to spawn many more breakthroughs. Here are some locations that have much to offer companies in both these burgeoning industries.

Mississippi: Movers and Shakers in the Plastics Industry

Mississippi has experienced major growth in the plastics, polymer, and chemical industries over the last decade. In fact, Business Facilities recently ranked Mississippi among the 20 hottest plastics locations and one of the 20 top-value sites for plastics companies in the United States. The state also ranks 33rd among the states in the number of processing plants and eighth in per capita employment in the polymer industry.

Already, more than 350 plastics/polymer companies are located in the state, including BASF, E.I. Dupont de Nemours, GE Plastics, Sunbeam Oster, and Wellman, to name a few. In addition, more than 100 chemical-related companies have facilities in Mississippi. All together, around 25,600 people in the state are employed in either the plastics, polymer, or chemical industries; this number is expected to grow by 4.7% through 2010.

A multi-level educational infrastructure contributes to Mississippi’s success in the plastics industry. U.S. News and World Report ranked the University of Southern Mississippi’s (Southern Miss) graduate program in polymer science as one of the top 10 in the nation. Southern Miss’ Polymer Research Institute also includes one of the most advanced rapid prototyping systems in the world. In addition, the University of Mississippi offers a pultrusion technology program, and Mississippi State University has a wood products laboratory that provides training important to the plastics/polymer industry.

Learn more about how your business can grow in Mississippi by visiting www.mississippi.org.

A Virginia Plastics Pioneer

Martinsville-Henry County, VA knows plastics. It’s home to industry leaders such as Solutia, Inc./CP Films, Inc.; Commonwealth Laminating and Coating, Inc.; Applied Felts, Inc.; and Tri-State Foam Products, Inc.

The county’s strategic location reduces transportation time and cost for product delivery. With five interstates and two major airports within 50 miles, plus access to Norfolk Southern rail service and the Port of Virginia, companies have access to a multitude of reliable shipping options.

Located only 35 miles from Martinsville-Henry County, the Advanced and Applied Polymer Processing Institute (AAPPI), part of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, is a national research and engineering center of excellence providing strategic contract research arrangements, as well as state-of-the-art analytical, processing, and testing services for the polymer manufacturing, processing, and converting industries. A primary focus of the center is to strengthen polymer-based companies by enhancing their production efficiency, profitability, product quality, and global competitiveness.

With its pro-business attitude, a multitude of available sites, and a skilled workforce, Martinsville-Henry County has all the assets in place to help your company thrive. For more information about the area, call 276-403-5940 or visit www.YesMartinsville/plastics.

Laurens County: A Center of Excellence for Manufacturers

With a wide array of advanced manufacturing and high-tech industry sectors, and some of the world’s largest companies calling the county home, Laurens County, SC has become a powerhouse in cutting-edge manufacturing.

Currently, the county’s largest industry is plastics; some of the plastics companies that already call the area home include ISO Poly Films, Inc.; Beden-Baugh Products; Lacks Industries; Dispoz-O Products, Inc.; Teknor Apex; Faurecia; Sterilite; Fehrer; Ware Shoals Plastics, Inc.; and Fukoku.

Laurens County has four industrial parks located along its two interstates. Two of those, Woodfield Industrial Park and Owings Industrial Park, are located along I-385 near the Greenville/Laurens County line. Woodfield Industrial Park has approximately 130 acres remaining, while Owings Industrial Park has 316 acres available, and rail service provided by RailAmerica. Another one, Hunter Industrial Park, is located on I-385 and US 221 and has almost 400 acres available, much of it rail served by CSX. The last park, Clinton Park Corporate Center Phase III, is located just one mile from I-26, and has 140 acres available. The park also has access to CSX rail.

In addition to these industrial parks, the county has numerous stand alone sites, many of which are also rail served. One such property is the 1,500-acre Fleming Smith site, which is located at the intersection of I-385 and US 221. The site is rail served by CSX.

The county has several buildings available for immediate occupancy that are well suited for plastics companies, such as the 31,600-square-foot spec building with 28- to 33-foot high ceilings in Woodfield Industrial Park. There is also an 80,000-square-foot building with six silos, a rail spur with a covered unloading area, and a ground water tank for fire suppression available.

Currently, 32% of the workers in Laurens County serves the plastics industry. During 2007, the availability of labor improved for prospective companies as Timken phased out its Clinton plant resulting in an additional 1,000 people available for hire. The Timken plant produced bearings for the automotive industry.

Businesses looking for low-cost, attractive financial incentives can find them through the Laurens County Council. On a $5 million investment, the county can reduce taxes by over 40% for a period of 20 years. In addition, the county also has the ability to offer a Special Source Revenue Credit that further reduces taxes for a period of 10 years. Businesses can lower their cost of operations as the county’s average wage is below the state average.

Overall, Laurens County offers an excellent location with easy accessibility, an available workforce, and low cost of operation. For more information, visit www.laurenscounty.org or call the county at 864-939-0580.

North Carolina: A Leader in Plastics Production

Plastics companies are finding a wealth of reasons why North Carolina is the right place to do business.

Many of these companies attribute their success to North Carolina’s universities and extensive community college network, both of which have made strong commitments to providing a well trained, educated, and dedicated workforce.

Others companies cite such advantages as the state’s central location on the Eastern seaboard, its extensive highway system, international airports, and deep-sea port—all of which contribute to products moving to market quickly and efficiently.

Still others credit the state’s scenic beauty, from the beaches of the Outer Banks to the Great Smoky Mountains, a low cost of living, and excellent quality of life as being key to successful recruitment and retention of talented workers.

No matter the reasons, the number of plastics companies locating and growing in the state has made North Carolina a national leader in this sector. Industry giants such as DuPont, Alcatel, Kimberly Clark, Microban, and GE Sealants and Adhesives all operate in the state. Consider these statistics:

• With 550 U.S. and international companies, North Carolina is the seventh largest plastics manufacturing state in the nation for shipments.

• With more than 44,000 workers, North Carolina ranks eighth in the nation in plastics industry employment. These workers come to the industry with diverse skills that range from plastics technicians to chemical engineers.

• In 2007, North Carolina’s plastics exports exceeded $1.2 billion, a 10% increase from 2006. In terms of dollars, it ranked third on the state’s list of largest exports by industry sector.

Last year, Fortron Industries, a joint venture between U.S.-based Ticona Technical Polymers and Japanese company Kureha Chemical Industries, completed an expansion of its Fortron linear polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) plant in Wilmington, NC. The facility is now the world’s largest manufacturer of PPS—a high performance, heat-resistant plastic used to make airplane wings, car parts, and circuit boards.

Fortron considered lower-cost locations overseas before deciding to expand in North Carolina. According to company officials, Fortron ultimately chose Wilmington for several reasons, including the deepwater port, excellent transportation system, supportive local government, and tech-savvy workforce.

“The state and the Wilmington area have provided the balanced business and environmental policies we’ve needed to help fuel our success as a global business,” says Fortron Industries President Fred Daniell.

For many, the training offered by the state’s universities and colleges provides companies that locate and expand in North Carolina with a major advantage. The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University is consistently ranked among the best in the Southeast. It offers multidisciplinary programs in biotechnology, pollution prevention, polymers, colloid and surface science, and molecular thermodynamics.

The North Carolina Community College Manufacturing Certification program offers curriculums in injection molding, extrusion, thermoforming, and blow molding processes. Eastern North Carolina Plastics Technology Consortium and the Plastics Technical Training Program in Asheville, NC also help ensure a continuing stream of qualified workers.

One of the state’s most attractive incentive programs is its free customized training for qualified companies provided by the North Carolina Community College System. Two companies that have been able to take advantage of this program are Nomaco (producer of custom thermoplastic foam extrusions and molded products) and Nomacorc (manufacturer of synthetic wine corks made from a highly elastic chemical polymer).

To learn more about the plastics industry in North Carolina, visit www.nccommerce.com.

Think Outside the Basin … Think Hesperia

A strategic location, diverse and skilled labor pool, and exceptional manufacturing, retail, and trade potential make the city of Hesperia one of the most favorable business climates in California’s Inland Empire North. With nearly 92,000 residents, Hesperia is the second largest community in the High Desert region of the state.

One key advantage to businesses and residents locating in Hesperia is its strategic position at the intersection of two major thoroughfares: Interstate 15 and US Highway 395. Situated near the summit of Interstate 15’s Cajon Pass, Hesperia is the most commuter-accessible community in the High Desert and is closer than other Inland Empire North cities to markets throughout Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

Hesperia serves as more than just a “gateway”—its central location provides a direct connection to other major interstates and highways serving the greater Los Angeles, San Diego, northern California, and Nevada markets. Interstate 15 connects to Interstate 40, which serves the southwestern states, including Arizona and beyond. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, one of Southern California’s dominant rail carriers, serves Hesperia.

Graco Products (a division of Rubbermaid Newell) has recently expanded its distribution center in Hesperia and now has 400,000 square feet of warehouse space. In addition, 84 Lumber has located on rail-served property, and Standard Abrasives, Inc., acquired in 2007 by 3M Co., is undergoing a second expansion in the city.

These companies are here because Hesperia offers one of the most favorable business climates in the Inland Empire North. Rail-accessible parcels, Foreign-Trade Sub-zones, and covenants in lieu of comparable LAMBRA Zone incentives all make Hesperia competitive.

Hesperia’s pro-development, customer service oriented attitude is driving business to the city. Discover the opportunities available there by contacting Hesperia’s Economic Development Department at 760-947-1906 or visit Hesperia online at www.cityofhesperia.us.

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