German chemical company, Evonik, held a ribbon cutting Thursday at its new state-of-the-art Innovation Hub in Trexlertown.
Located on property Evonik purchased from Air Products about 6 years ago, the 30,000-square-foot space will be the centerpiece of growth at the two-building site said Tracey Mole, vice president of the Business & Innovation Center.
“This the first major milestone in our modernization project,” he said.
The space will be the center of the company’s global research and development efforts and will serve as a collaborative space where researchers, marketing and financing staff can all work together on innovation.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf noted that the state helped fund the development of the center, which he called an important addition to the state and the Lehigh Valley.
“Evonik’s new, state-of-the-art space will build on Pennsylvania’s strength as a center for advanced manufacturing,” said Wolf. “I’m proud to have invested $2.5 million in this Innovation Hub that will bring new, good-paying jobs to the Allentown region.”
According to Evonik, the company employs 300 at the Trexlertown facility. The project is helping to retain more than 200 of those employees as well as adding 50 high-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing.
Ute Wolf, CFO of Evonik said having the center in Trexlertown will help the Lehigh Valley become the center of Evonik’s global growth.
“Innovation is very important. What we really brings us forward is new ideas and education,” she said.
To express the importance of innovation to Evonik, Ute Wolf noted that the company spends about $500,000 per year on research and development.
Jean Vincent, senior vice president of R&D, specialty additives, said the company’s research into high-performing plastics, used in applications from medical implants to football cleats, is the centerpiece of the company’s work at the facility, but the company also researches other things such as additives to insulation used in refrigerators to products that help make paint brighter.
“We research new chemistry applications of technology right down to the molecular level,” she said.
The Innovation Hub project was managed by Boyle Construction, and Mole said it won’t be the last new construction the company will have at the site.
“I would like to see the site continue to grow,” he said, noting the space to add new building was one of the features that attracted Evonik to purchase the property.
What attracted the company to locate in the Lehigh Valley in the first place, he said, was the region’s education landscape. He said with the large number of universities in the region, Evonik has a sizeable pool of highly educated and skilled talent to recruit from.
In fact, the company recently donated $100,000 to the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown to help promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education for young women.
Like many companies, Mole said Evonik was also drawn to the Lehigh Valley because of its geography. He noted it’s close to other innovation hubs like New York and Boston but has the affordability of living that offers a better quality of life for employees.