Air Liquide Expands in Lehigh Valley, Creating and Retaining Nearly 270 Jobs
By Colin McEvoy on July 31, 2018
Air Liquide, a manufacturer of specialty chemicals in the semi-conductor business and the world’s largest industrial gas company by revenue, has expanded its operations in the Lehigh Valley, a move that will create and retain a total of nearly 270 jobs.
The global supplier of gases, technologies, and services for industry and health has expanded into a new 105,000-square-foot facility in Upper Mount Bethel Township, located less than three miles from its already existing operation in the region.
This project will create 188 new high-paying jobs and retain 80 more over the next three years, according to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s office, which announced the move on July 31. Air Liquide plans to invest nearly $45 million into the project.
“The presence of Voltaix and now Air Liquide has been a hidden gem for many years in Northampton County and the Lehigh Valley,” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).
“The company’s decision to remain and grow here will result in even more high-quality manufacturing jobs in an important technology sector of the economy,” Cunningham said. “We’re grateful for Air Liquide’s decision to continue its growth here helping to drive manufacturing as the second largest part of the Lehigh Valley economy.”
Air Liquide produces gases used in the manufacture of semiconductors and advanced solar cells at their Lehigh Valley location. It has had a presence in the region since 2013, when it acquired Voltaix, which had been operating its Pennsylvania operations at the Ultra Poly Industrial Park in Upper Mount Bethel.
“This project will have a big impact on Northampton County, providing nearly 200 family-sustaining jobs to workers in the area,” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said. “I applaud Air Liquide for recognizing the benefits of doing business here in Pennsylvania and choosing the commonwealth as the site for its continued growth into the future.”
Last year, requiring additional space to grow, Air Liquide leased its new location at the former Formica-Surrell Building at 1379 Delaware Drive in Upper Mount Bethel Township, where they have been making improvements to increase their manufacturing capacity.
The company explored locations outside of Pennsylvania and the United States when considering its expansion, but ultimately chose Northampton County after a coalition of various partners and stakeholders in the region partnered together to help keep them in the region.
“This shows that with the right collaboration and smart economic incentives we can attract and grow high-quality manufacturing jobs in Northampton County,” said Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure. “The expansion of Air Liquide and its growing commitment to the Slate Belt is a significant economic success story for the county.”
With assistance from LVEDC, Northampton County, Upper Mount Bethel, and the Bangor Area School District formed a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA), which provides for tax exemptions or new construction for certain deteriorated industrial, commercial, and other business properties. Although not created specifically for the Air Liquide project, but it was an integral component in making it happen.
A coalition for the park began with the school district received a $3.2 million Northampton County grant and $382,000 in state funds to help build the site infrastructure. The district formed the Economic Development Authority, a coalition of seven municipalities, to oversee the money.
Air Liquide also received a funding proposal from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for $564,000 in Pennsylvania First funding and $564,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits to be distributed upon creation of the new jobs.
The project was coordinated by the Governor’s Action Team, an experienced group of economic development professionals who report directly to the governor and work with businesses that are considering locating or expanding in Pennsylvania.
“Air Liquide is committed to continued long term growth and engagement with the communities in which it operates,” said Paul Burlingame, president and CEO of Air Liquide Advanced Materials.
“We are pleased that our community ties and strong partnership with the Governor’s Action team have helped make this investment possible,” Burlingame said. “We look forward to expanding our operations in Northampton County and are proud to contribute to the growing economic vitality in the area and strengthening the manufacturing industry in the state.”
Headquartered in Paris, Air Liquide’s operations in the United States date back to 1968. Today, Air Liquide in the U.S. is comprised of two clusters, Air Liquide USA and Airgas, and counts more than 20,000 employees in more than 1,300 locations.
The company serves more than 3 million customers, employs more than 67,000 people worldwide, and has locations in 80 countries. Voltaix and Air Liquide had previously invested more than $70 million at its former state-of-the-art industrial gas production plant in Upper Mount Bethel.
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