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Airgas announces plans to expand in Calvert City

BY DAVID ZOELLER dzoeller@paducahsun.com

CALVERT CITY - Marshall County officials got some good economic news this week.

Airgas, one of the nation's leading suppliers of industrial, medical and specialty gases, announced plans Thursday to build an air separation unit (ASU) to supply tonnage oxygen and nitrogen via pipeline to Westlake Vinyls at its expanded Calvert City manufacturing complex.

"We are very excited about our new relationship with Westlake and look forward to serving their atmospheric gas needs in Calvert City with our new state-of-the-art production facility," said Michael L. Molinini, Airgas president and CEO.

County officials are equally pleased.

"We are certainly delighted that they have chosen Marshall County and Calvert City," said Mike Miller, Marshall County judge-executive. "It's my understanding that (the planned investment) is in the $30 million neighborhood. That's a big investment."

"We are extremely proud to add Airgas to our industrial family," said Josh Tubbs, Marshall County economic development director. "We look forward to strengthening our relationship with the company in the future."

Airgas did not announce any employment information. Tubbs said it was his initial understanding in talks with the company the project would create approximately 17-18 jobs. A couple of other possible locations were considered by Airgas, he said.

Miller said: "Anytime you can add to your industrial complex, it's a good thing. Whether it's five jobs or 500, a new job is a new job. It means a lot to us from an economic development standpoint."

ASUs that supply tonnage gases via pipeline to a customer are typically located with the customer's facility, according to Sarah Stockton-Brown, communications manager with Airgas. The Calvert City ASU will also support the expected growth in the region's merchant bulk gas market, she said.

Airgas' Calvert City ASU is expected to be on-stream in the spring of 2016. Airgas currently owns and operates 16 ASUs and is the fifth-largest producer of atmospheric gases in the U.S.

Contact David Zoeller, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.

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