RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – West Pharmaceutical Services, ironically a manufacturer of drug-packaging and delivery components in the Eastern North Carolina community of Kinston for the last four decades, will invest $19 million over the next year to expand its production capacity there.

The project will add about 90 new jobs to the Lenoir County plant’s current workforce of 425.

“In addition to investing in equipment, we are also investing in people, and are pleased to have the opportunity to provide jobs which will enable more people from the Kinston community to join our West team,” said Eric Haman, the company’s director of global corporate communications. “There will be a variety of positions available, including machine operators, procurement and planning specialists, supervisors, engineers, maintenance technicians and control specialists.”

The square footage of the expansion hasn’t yet been determined because the project is still in the design phase, Haman said. Much of the new equipment at the site will include presses, mold trim and dies, and other equipment used to manufacture rubber primary packaging components used in the containment and delivery of medicines.

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Its Kinston plant produces a variety of rubber components, such as stoppers for vials and plungers for pre-filled syringes, “many of which are playing a critical role in the fight against COVID-19 with vaccines and therapeutic medicines being used to treat COVID-19 patients,” Haman said.

Local grant will help expansion

West’s expansion will be aided by a performance-based grant from Lenoir County of up to $400,000.

Local governments use these grants to attract business projects that will stimulate economic activity. Recipient companies receive no money up front and must meet investment performance standards to qualify for reimbursement.

“Lenoir County is proud of the longstanding relationship with this company and their commitment to the county, region and state,” said Craig Hill, chair of the Lenoir County Board of Commissioners. “The county has been committed to West through tough times and prosperous times. One of the reasons West has remained in Lenoir County is due to this 40-year relationship.”

In addition to Lenoir County and Lenoir County Economic Development, other partners that helped with the project included the state’s Community College System and Lenoir Community College.

“West is pleased to expand our Kinston facility in order to continue delivering high-value packaging components to our pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical customers,” said Tom Gribbin, operations director at the Kinston plant. “In the 40 years that West has been in Kinston, Lenoir County has been a tremendous partner, and we are incredibly grateful for the support they have provided which has enabled us to continue to grow our business.”

Two local state representatives, John Bell and George Graham, hailed the expansion and the economic benefits it will bring to the region.

“When a company expands and invests in the community, it creates more opportunities for its citizens,” Bell said. “We appreciate this continued partnership with West Pharmaceutical Services in Lenoir County and look forward to many years of success for its employees and our citizens.”

Graham said the expansion will not only help Lenoir County grow but will benefit all of Eastern North Carolina.

“Capital investment and a world-class site designation by West for the Kinston facility has the potential for job creation for our local workforce, the North Carolina Global TransPark, and for young people who will be graduating from high school,” Graham said. “This will hopefully aid in the fight to attract young talent back to Eastern North Carolina.”

A global company

West, headquartered in Exton, Pennsylvania, has been in business for nearly a century. It has almost 10,000 employees at about 50 sites worldwide.

The company provides over 40 billion components and devices each year to the biotech, pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

“We have a real sense of pride about our mission of improving patient lives and the critical role West is playing in the production of components being used directly in the fight against COVID-19,” Haman said. “Our team members have been outstanding throughout this pandemic, with high levels of engagement and commitment.”

In 2020 West generated over $2.1 billion in net sales. Its stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol WST and is included on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

(C) N.C. Biotechnology Center