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Air Liquide Holds Ribbon-Cutting for Newly Expanded Lehigh Valley Facility

By Colin McEvoy on October 22, 2018

Paul Burlingame, President and CEO of Air Liquide Advanced Materials, cuts the ribbon at the newly-expanded Air Liquide facility in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

Paul Burlingame, President and CEO of Air Liquide Advanced Materials, cuts the ribbon at the newly-expanded Air Liquide facility in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

The world’s largest industrial gas company by revenue held a ribbon-cutting event on Oct. 19 to celebrate the opening of its newly-expanded operations in the Lehigh Valley, which will create and retain a total of nearly 270 jobs in the region.

Air Liquide, a manufacturer of specialty chemicals in the semi-conductor business, 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 Lehigh Valley.

Paul Burlingame, President and CEO of Air Liquide Advanced Materials, said it had been eight years since Voltaix, a company later acquired Air Liquide, first broke ground on its original facility in the township, which it chose after an exhaustive national search analyzing 50 different sites.

“We decided on Upper Mount Bethel Township and we couldn’t be happier,” Burlingame said to a crowd of more than 120 people at the ribbon-cutting. “Since that groundbreaking into 2010, Air Liquide has invested more than $100 million in Upper Mount Bethel Township, and hired over 200 people. That’s going to continue as this business continues to grow and be successful.”

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.

“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 previously 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.”

The Air Liquide building at 1379 Delaware Drive in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

The Air Liquide building at 1379 Delaware Drive in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

Air Liquide is a more than $20 billion company that has existed for almost 120 years, and its Advanced Materials business develops and manufactures molecules that go into virtually every cell phone manufactured today, according to Adam Peters, Vice President of Electronics World Business Line for Air Liquide

“It’s a very exciting business for us,” said Peters, who is also Chairman of Air Liquide’s Advanced Materials business. “It’s something we see tremendous opportunities going forward. I’m glad this is the next major step for us in the growth of this business, so we can continue to innovate and move forward.”

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.

With assistance from the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), the county, township, and 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, according to LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham, who was also in attendance at the Oct. 19 groundbreaking.

Janet Smith, Lehigh Valley regional director for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Action Team, said GAT first started working with Voltaix as early as 2007 to locate the site for its original Upper Mount Bethel Township building.

That began a collaborative effort that also included GAT, the company, LVEDC, Northampton County, Upper Mount Bethel Township, the Bangor Industrial Development Authority, and others, Smith said.

“This is just a testament to how wonderful private-public partnerships can work,” she said.

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