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SKC begins on phase two of expansion
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Local industry SKC recently began construction on the second phase of a previously announced $100 million expansion at its Covington facility.

The company is constructing a new building and adding a new polyester film manufacturing line, which will boost the company's core business.

SKC previously said it expected to create 50 jobs in the second phase, but Tom Gray, vice president of operations, said the number of jobs will be finalized in the fourth quarter of 2013 as the new line is expected to be up and running by the second quarter of 2014.

Hiring is expected to begin in mid-to-late 2013, according to a press release. Local officials previously said the jobs would have a salary range of $35,000 to $100,000 with an average wage of $43,000. Gray said the company currently employs 350 employees in addition to outside contractors.

Polyester film is the company's core business, and its products, including its patented Skyrol product, are used in many industrial applications, including magnetic coating, packaging, graphics, electric insulation, capacitors and many other industrial uses including stamping foil and thermal transfer ribbon.

The new line will complete SKC's previously announced $100 million expansion, which was announced in late 2010 when the company decided to enter the solar panel field.

Phase one involved the construction of two manufacturing lines to produce ethylene vinyl acetate film, which encapsulates the solar cells of solar panels to protect them from contamination and physical impacts. Those lines were up and running on Sept. 15, 2011. The solar panel film business was expected to employ around 70 workers.

Although they were announced together, Gray said the two phases represent two separate business investments.

Local officials previously estimated that the fully built-out plant would bring in an additional $5.2 million in annual ad valorem tax.

Though SKC's U.S. headquarters are located at its 389-acre campus on Hazelbrand Road in Covington, local governments still competed to land SKC's expansion. Each phase of the project receives a seven-year tax abatement plan under the incentives agreement reached between SKC and the Newton County Industrial Development Authority. The first three years of each plan will be tax free, while the additional four years will be phased in at a 25 percent tax rate increase per year. SKC was projected to save a total of $6 million in taxes over the life of the project. The state also reportedly offered a multi-million tax incentive.

Authority attorney Frank Turner Jr. said in late 2010 that there are several performance guarantees that SKC must meet in order to get the full local incentive package. One guarantee was that SKC must start phase two within three years of the finish of phase one.

SKC, a South Korean-based company, initially announced it was locating in Covington in 1996 and began operations in 1999 and has expanded its operations since then. In 2010, the company opened a polyurethane systems plant.

Polyurethane foam is used as cushion for car seats and furniture and as insulation for homes, refrigerators and other appliances.

The plant was part of an aggressive expansion campaign by SKC called "Double SKC." Chairman Shin Won Choi said the company was once again setting an example for the world and Consulate General Hae Jin Chun said these two Covington plants were the beginning of a new era for SKC.

As for any continued plans for expansion, Gray said it was too soon to speculate at this time.

"SKC Inc.'s long-term goal is to continue to reinvest in our business as market opportunities present themselves," he said.