A company that makes coloring agents for concrete and plastic will build a $115 million plant near Augusta Regional Airport.
Rockwood Color Pigment and Services will employ between 80 and 100 people at the facility at Doug Barnard Parkway and Dixon Airline Road. The plant will take about 18 months to build.
After its completion, expected in the first half of 2013, Rockwood plans to close its St. Louis manufacturing facility and parts of its Beltsville, Md., operation.
The Rockwood plant will produce synthetic iron oxide pigments used in construction, coatings and plastics.
“The coloring product to be made here in Augusta by Rockwood Pigments will enhance the appearance of our world,” said Henry Ingram, the chairman of the Augusta Economic Development Authority. “Rockwood’s new manufacturing facility in Augusta will strengthen the company’s customer service, reduce transportation costs and improve product development potential within the United States.”
Rockwood is the chemical manufacturing project that went before the city’s planning and zoning commission in November, without being identified, for the rezoning of 180 acres to heavy manufacturing.
Andrew Ross, the president of Rockwood Performance Additives, said the property was perfect for the plant and that neighboring industries have created an infrastructure with support services, a high-caliber workforce and an encouraging track record. The location is good for both receiving and distributing, he said.
“I keep having to promise that it had nothing to do with golf,” Ross said with a laugh. “It kind of all just came together.”
The project will be the first new iron oxide pigment production plant built in the U.S. in nearly 35 years.
“Rockwood is the only global iron oxide supplier with production capabilities in North America. We are making this investment in a new production facility in the U.S. to deploy significant recent advancements in our proven iron oxide pigment technology,” Ross said.
The Rockwood announcement was made Tuesday morning during a chamber of commerce event. Augusta was one of six Southeast cities competing for the plant.
The development authority’s executive director, Walter Sprouse, said officials have worked with Rockwood for seven months.
Workforce was one of the key factors in luring the company here, Sprouse said.
“That was one thing that was really a big plus for us was the fact that they are very comfortable with the workforce, they are very comfortable with the training they will be receiving through Augusta Technical College and through (Georgia) Quick Start,” he said.
That Quick Start program will allow the state to support workers’ initial training, said Terry Elam, the president of Augusta Technical College and the chairman of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors.
“This is the first new project we’ve had in manufacturing in a while,” he said.
Sprouse said the airport was a strong consideration for Rockwood.
“However, their final product will probably be shipped by truck, since it is like a sand/sugar/powder,” he said.