Sonoco is building a nearly $12 million research and development facility for consumer packaging products in Hartsville.
Construction of the Innovative Packaging Solutions (IPS) Studio is already underway at the company’s old Packaging Development Center, a portion of which was demolished to make way for the new facility. Company officials say completion of the project is expected by the end of the third quarter of this year.
The facility will mean the creation of at least 10 new jobs, initially, and could produce as many as 40 jobs within the next five to 10 years as new products are developed, according to Roger Schrum, Sonoco vice president for Investor Relations and Corporate Affairs. Eighty existing jobs will be retained, Schrum said.
A proposed ordinance for an incentive package that includes a fee in lieu of taxes agreement and other items aimed at encouraging the $11.8 million project was introduced during Darlington County Council’s Monday meeting. No vote is taken on first reading of an ordinance. The measure must receive favorable votes on two more readings to pass, which it is expected to receive.
The center will be a state-of-the-art research and development facility that will connect consumer insights to the invention of new consumer packaging, Schrum said.
It will include a Consumer Interaction Studio that will allow live, direct observation of consumers interacting with products and packaging in areas representing retail, kitchen, living and bathroom environments and even automobiles.
The facility will also contain collaboration spaces, where experts will interact with the latest technologies to turn ideas into packaging concepts. The concepts will include “structural design and manufacturing to access potential for commercialization,” he said.
The center will feature rapid prototyping labs, Schrum said, that will use the concepts in developing engineered prototypes.
“We leverage our design engineering and material science capabilities with rapid prototyping including 3D printing capabilities, FDA registered food fill facility and multi-platform pilot plant manufacturing production capabilities for producing test run packaging,” he said.
The new facility is also expected to bring more Sonoco customer traffic to Hartsville as the company and its customers plan for new product development.
“IPS Studio will be a show place for next-generation packaging development for our customers and will drive our customers to Hartsville to collaborate in new product development,” he said.
Sonoco officials will have more to say about the new facility, Schrum said, as the county ordinance moves through the approval process. Artist renditions of the new center are expected to be on hand at the company’s annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Center Theater in downtown Hartsville, according to Schrum.