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Suominen’s Bethune Plant may Expand

April 14, 2015

By: Jim Tatum
The Chronicle-Independent Newspaper
Suominenis looking to expand its Bethune operation, according to a press releasepublished Thursday on the company’s website.
TheEuropean company, which manufactures nonwovens as roll goods for wipes, medicaland hygiene products, announced in January it had started the planning processto invest in a new wetlaid production line in North America.
Ifall goes as planned, that new production line will come to Bethune, accordingto the release.
Asannounced in January, the planned investment constitutes the most significantsingle initiative in Suominen’s 30 to 50 million Euro (about $32-53 million)investment program and supports Suominen’s growth target for the strategicperiod of 2015-2017, according to the release.
Accordingto Saara Söderberg, vice president of marketing and product management and the projectmanager of the investment initiative, the new manufacturing line is an importantcomponent of the company’s growth strategy.
“Throughsuccessful strategy execution, as we have announced, Suominen would become acompany with a net sales of roughly EUR 500 million by the end of 2017,” Söderbergsaid. “Besides, the investment would support our target to further increase theshare of products with higher value-added in our portfolio.”
LarryL. Kinn, senior vice president of American operations, said the company chosethe Bethune plant for several reasons.
“Bethuneis ideally located in the Carolinas, the nonwovens hub of North America, and isfavorably located from a logistical standpoint of serving our customers andmanaging our raw materials,” Kinn said. “Moreover, the Bethune plant alreadyhas ongoing operations, a very talented staff, and has considerableinfrastructure already in place for the expansion.”
Countyofficials said they are pleased with the announcement.
“This is clear recognition by others that Kershaw County isthe place to conduct business, not only in South Carolina, but in the Southeastand the world,” Kershaw County Council Chairman Julian Burns said. “The firstprinciple of economic development is taking care of existing business andindustry. The fundamentals of quality growth in Kershaw County start with thatrecognition. The second principle is ensuring that you have available allthe pieces necessary to support and encourage such growth.”
Burns praised County Administrator Vic Carpenter andEconomic Development Director Peggy McLean for their work with the project.
“This announcement is recognition of that effort, as well asthe fact that when all the right pieces are present, industrial growth willoccur,” Burns said.
“We are excited that Suominen has chosen its Bethune plantas the lead location for its potential expansion,” McLean said. “We have beenworking with the Suominen leadership to ensure they are confident that ourlocal workforce and business community will provide everything needed forcontinued success.  This news is great for Kershaw County.”  
Suominen continues to prepare the investment project, withfinalization of the decision still pending. Therefore, Suominen cannot yetcomment the total value of the investment, according to company officials.Suominen currently employs 185 people at the Bethune plant.The company is currently operating under a fee in lieu of taxes agreement withKershaw County wherein it agreed to invest $45 million but has actually alreadyinvested more than $56 million according to Carpenter.
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"Together we have done great things in Kershaw County including announcing jobs and critical investment this past year at Suominen, Haier and INVISTA. Kershaw County is on the move and we are confident this growth will continue as we continue to invest in quality jobs and training for South Carolina’s workforce."
-- Nikki Haley - UN Ambassador and Former SC Governor