- Glass manufacturer Corning Inc. on April 4 announced plans to construct a new production facility in North Carolina, part of the company's to expand its business providing more durable glass packaging to drugmakers.
- Corning will invest $200 million in the plant and plans to create 300 jobs to staff the site, which will be located near another manufacturing facility in Durham county.
- Last July, Corning debuted a new product dubbed Valor Glass that it developed in partnership with Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. Designed to be crack-resistant and capable of higher throughput speeds on production lines, Valor Glass is intended for use with biologics or other injectable medicines.
Corning has made a major bet on Valor Glass, banking on demand from the pharma industry for vials that are less likely to chip and crack. Not only would more durable packaging cut down on particle contamination, but stronger glass could enable companies to send medicine containers through fill lines at faster speeds.
The interest of Pfizer and Merck, two of the largest drug manufacturers in the U.S., speaks to the level of interest from industry.
So far, Corning has earmarked $500 million for the project, although it has said eventual investment could reach as high as $4 billion.
Currently, life sciences earns Corning only a fraction of its total sales, which mostly come from the company's display technologies and optical communications business units. Corning execs don't expect life sciences sales to take off overnight, but clearly see a large market opportunity.
In addition to the North Carolina plant, the manufacturer previously announced it would hire 185 staff at two sites in New York to support production of Valor Glass.
By employee count, the North Carolina site will be bigger, although a Corning spokesperson declined to reveal the physical size of the planned facility.
The site is expected to become operational by the end of 2019.
The North Carolina Department of Commerce awarded Corning a grant worth $3.2 million over 12 years, and Durham County chipped in another $2.7 million grant over a 7-year term, the spokesperson said. Both grants are merit-based, meaning Corning will need to meet certain commitments in order to unlock the money.
Corning currently employs 4,000 people in North Carolina.