Illinois-Based Manufacturer Breaks Ground on New Forks Township Facility
By Colin McEvoy on April 26, 2018
An Illinois-based maker of perlite products has become the latest manufacturer to establish a facility in the Lehigh Valley.
The Silbrico Corporation has announced it has broken ground on a 30,000 square-foot specialized manufacturing facility in Forks Township, where it plans to hire 25 local employees. The project is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2018.
Steven B. Garnett, President of Silbrico Corporation, said the company chose the Lehigh Valley based on its central location, well-trained workforce, and excellent quality of life, as well as other economic factors.
“We are very excited to open our facility in the Lehigh Valley and look forward to getting to know our new neighbors and contributing to the community,” Garnett said.
The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) had been engaged in communications with the Silbrico Corporation for more than two years, providing information about the region’s economic assets and labor market.
“We’re happy to welcome the Silbrico Corporation to the Lehigh Valley,” said Don Cunningham, LVEDC President & CEO. “This is another example of the strength of the region’s manufacturing sector, and particularly the development of a wide-range of small to medium-sized manufacturing that we’ve increasingly seen in recent years.”
Manufacturing is the second-largest sector of the Lehigh Valley economy, contributing $6.89 billion – or 18 percent – of the region’s $39.1 billion gross domestic product (GDP). It also makes up 10.1 percent of the region’s labor force, with 32,388 manufacturing employees.
The Silbrico Corporation makes high-quality products from perlite, a mineral that can be used across many industries in applications that include lightweight fillers, insulation, coatings and textures, filter aids, growing medium, cosmetics and more.
The company is based in Hodgkins, Illinois, and its second location in the Lehigh Valley will be located on a seven-acre parcel in the Forks Business Center at at 4250 Braden Blvd. East.
J.G. Petrucci will handle all development and construction components of the project. Garnett said the Petrucci team worked closely with the company throughout the design process and continues to incorporate feedback from its employees to make the new venture a success.
“We are thrilled Silbrico has selected J.G. Petrucci as its partner for this project,” explained Joe Correia, Executive Vice President at J.G. Petrucci. “We have a long history in Forks Township and are proud of the businesses that we have attracted to the area.”
This project is one of several examples of development projects or expansions by small- or mid-sized manufacturers in the Lehigh Valley in recent years.
Manufacturers like Michelman Steel Enterprises, SunOpta, and Reeb Millwork Corp. have embarked on expansions, while companies like Vastex International, DevTech, and Alpla Inc. have established new facilities. Additionally, manufacturers like Tyber Medical and Royal Industries have relocated their operations to the Lehigh Valley from outside the state.
Silbrico’s investment in the region also speaks to the strong desire for smaller-footprint manufacturing and industrial flex space in the 30,000 to 80,000 square foot range. LVEDC has spoken often about this demand and the shortage of such space in that size range.
According to LVEDC’s most recent Lehigh Valley Commercial Real Estate Report, only three suitable small-footprint industrial buildings have been built in the last three years, and only one other is currently under construction.
Some of Silbrico’s product lines include Sil-Cell Microspheres, Sil-Kleer Filter Powder, Ryolex Industrial Perlites, and Proponix Horticultural Perlite. Silbrico Corporation also specializes in the custom design and fabrication of perlite expansion systems.
Jeff Jones of NAI DiLeo-Bram & Co. represented Silbrico in the transaction for the Forks Township parcel. The project was designed by Cerminara Architect and will be constructed by J.G. Petrucci’s in-house construction team, Iron Hill Construction Management.
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