Libbey Inc. said it plans to invest $20 million in a Louisiana manufacturing plant that the company said earlier this year would be downsized.
The investment was announced earlier this week by Louisiana’s economic development office. Libbey will add glassmaking technology, plus research and development capabilities.
In February, the Toledo-based glassmaker said it planned to reduce production in Shreveport to realign North American production. Libbey said it would shift some production and equipment to plants in Toledo and Monterrey, Mexico. In July, the company said in Shreveport 65 people were laid off and 17 more had retired as result of the change. No jobs were created in Toledo.
But with the investment announced Tuesday, Louisiana officials said Libbey expects to create 70 jobs in Shreveport. The plant employs 511 people, down from more than 800 in mid-2011.
Lisa Fell, a company spokesman, said that while the two projects are close in timing, they are separate and unrelated. Ms. Fell said Libbey had worked on the project to add glassmaking technologies for some time. As the company evaluated sites, Shreveport’s proximity to customers made it the best choice, she said.
She declined to say what other locations Libbey evaluated. “Other sites were considered and Shreveport was selected,” she said. The investment is expected to be a three-year effort, she added.
A top Libbey executive said the investment would make the company more competitive. “This new investment in technology will enable us to compete more effectively in a broader marketplace,” said Dan Ibele, Libbey’s vice president and general manager for the United States and Canada, said. The state said talks with Libbey about the project began in July.
A delegation of Shreveport-area politicians and economic development officials visited Toledo earlier this year “as part of a collaborative commitment to our local industries’ presence and success,” Scott Martinez, president of the North Louisiana Economic Partnership, said in a statement.
The Louisiana Economic Development office put together a tax incentive package valued at more than $500,000 to help lure the investment.
The office said Libbey choose Shreveport over other U.S. and foreign sites, though a state spokesman could not name the locations Libbey may have considered.
Ms. Fell said Libbey’s realignment is unaffected by Shreveport’s investment. The company expects to save $7 million to $9 million starting next year from its realignment.
Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at email@example.com or 419-724-6134.
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