Evonik Opens New Innovation Hub in Lehigh Valley, Creating 50 Jobs
By Colin McEvoy on September 2, 2022
About five years after having first come to the Lehigh Valley with its acquisition of Air Products’ performance materials business, the Evonik Corporation is expanding with a new Innovation Hub that will create an additional 50 highly-paid jobs in the region.
The Germany-based Evonik is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals, and the new expansion in Upper Macungie Township will not only create new jobs, but also help retain the 277 people already currently working at the Lehigh Valley site.
Bonnie Tully, Evonik’s President of the North America region, said the Lehigh Valley facility “has become an essential part of our footprint in North America,” and plays a crucial role in research and development for the global company, which is active in more than 100 countries around the world and generated sales of €15 billion in 2021.
“The Lehigh Valley is a great place to do business,” Tully said at the Sept. 1 ribbon-cutting of the Innovation Hub. “I still remember how impressed I was to find so many tech companies here when I first visited. This is no small part due to the Valley’s outstanding universities. We found a talented workforce here and supportive civic leaders who understand our needs.”
Evonik completed a $3.8 billion acquisition of Air Products’ performance materials business in January 2017. In addition to its superior workforce and high-quality educational institutions, Tully said the region was attractive to Evonik because of its central East Coast location, which is close to major cities like New York and Boston while providing a more affordable place for its employees to live.
“We are committed to the region, and that’s why we continue to invest not only in advanced technology but also in our people,” Tully said. “… We have deep roots in the Lehigh Valley. We are here to stay, and we are here to grow.”
The new Innovation Hub consists of more than 60 state-of-the-art testing and processing labs as well as a pilot plant, according to the company. It also features a newly-designed collaboration space to support a hybrid and creative work environment.
The facility will include a new High Performance Polymers lab, which will provide for the processing and testing of plastics for 3-D printing, medical implants, or performance foams in airplanes or cars, according to Ralph Marquardt, Evonik’s Chief Innovation Officer.
Another lab enables the formulation and testing of additives for industrial coatings. The facility’s best-in-class polyurethane spray foam testing and emission chamber helps Evonik customers meet environmental and emission standards.
The Innovation Hub also features a flexible collaboration space to support and enhance a hybrid work environment. The uniquely-designed space offers open areas for employees to work on-site without needing individual offices, according to the company.
“Allentown provides an excellent setting for our activities and innovations and enables collaboration and synergies,” Marquardt said. “Plain and simple, it’s a great place to invest. It has a proven track record of innovations.”
Evonik’s commitment to the Lehigh Valley goes beyond creating job opportunities, Tully said. The company recently donated $100,000 to support the Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) initiative of the Da Vinci Science Center, which supports women in the STEM (Science, Technology , Engineering, and Math) fields.
Evonik received a $2.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant from the state of Pennsylvania for the expansion project, coordinated by the Governor’s Action Team, according to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.
“This exciting, state-of-the-art space will support Evonik’s global growth and bring new, good-paying jobs to the Allentown region,” Wolf said.
The Innovation Hub is part of a broader globalization strategy for research, development, and innovation, which Evonik considers a key driver moving into the future, said Evonik Chief Financial Officer Ute Wolf. The company plans to invest more than $3 billion by 2030 in products with superior sustainability benefits, and an additional $700 million in technologies to optimize production processes and infrastructure and avoid CO2 emissions.
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