Trending: State council endorses nearly $5 million in grants to chemical company, food distributor

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The Delaware Council on Development Finance Monday morning endorsed nearly $5 million in strategic grants for two companies.

The grants included a specialty chemical maker making a major acquisition and a food distributor that plans to open a $25 million facility in the Bear area.

Solenis, LLC received the OK for a $3.9 million grant from the state’s Strategic Fund for growing its headquarters and research and development operations in New Castle County.

The grant would be for capital expenditures for $763,050; a $1.98 million grant for the retention of 323 jobs; and a performance grant for$1.17 million that would create 92 new jobs.

Solenis has 323 employees split between headquarters operations and its research center at the Ashland-Hercules site west of Wilmington.

Solenis, which is owned by private equity interests was formed from a sale of operations by Ashland Inc., formerly Hercules. Solenis operates headquarters in north Wilmington near the Pennsylvania line.

The company has $1.9 billion in sales and has a large chunk of paper-making and packaging specialty chemicals. Another key market is mining.

Worldwide employment is 3,700. The company has made eight acquisitions, not including a deal with a BASF unit that would add $900 million in annual sales and a thousand additional employees worldwide.

After the acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approval would result in a company that is slightly larger than Hercules at the time of its sale to Ashland nearly a decade ago.

Solenis had earlier received a grant to locate its headquarters in Delaware. That led to a discussion among council members on whether the state was paying twice for attracting and retaining jobs.

Kurt Foreman, head of the Delaware Prosperity Partnership, said the assistance was needed to keep the company in Delaware, since Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey would subsidize all jobs brought to their states.

Foreman said news this spring of the BASF acquisition and the potential to move operations spurred efforts to put together a financial package.

Phil Patterson, Solenis’ Chief Financial Officer stated in separate release that the the performance-based grants will support Solenis’s next growth phase. “Solenis is in a growth mode and we are working to retain, recruit and add employees to enhance our value proposition and better serve our customers. Our roots are here in Delaware and we are excited about continuing to grow here.”

The council gave Dot Foods the OK for $1.1 million for a new redistribution center in Bear. The total price tag of the project is $25 million.

Illinois-based Dot is listed as the nation’s largest redistributor of foods. The family-owned company buys foods from manufacturers and then resells to customers in less than truckload quantities to food service companies like Sysco.

The company plans to employ about 200 people, including 150 truckdrivers. Few employees will transfer from other locations since the center will meet existing demand. The company says construction could begin this fall.

DOT plans to build the distribution center at Red Lion and Wrangle Hill Road in Bear.

Members of the council met behind closed doors to consider actions regarding an unidentified company that is moving into the collections process on not paying off state obligations The agenda cited the need to meet with legal counsel to formulate a strategy.

The council, which is made up of government and private sector members, makes recommendations on funding.

The council is now under the state Delaware Division of Small Business, which is part of the Delaware Department of State.

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