Center for packaging innovation and pilot plant creates 114 local jobs.

MeadWestvaco Corp.( opened a state-of-the art pilot plant in Eastern Henrico County. A key component of MWV’s Center for Packaging Innovation (CPI), the pilot plant is a 48,000 square foot packaging materials and technologies research and development facility. To help kick off the opening, MWV hosted Virginia State Senator Donald McEachin for a tour of the facility. McEachin was given an inside look at the plant’s operations and capabilities. Joining McEachin were members of MWV’s global innovation team and Virginia Manufacturers Association (VMA) President and CEO Brett A. Vassey.

In 2010 MWV decided to move its Center for Packaging Innovation and the pilot plant, from Raleigh, NC to the company’s global headquarters in Richmond, VA. Since that time the company has been hard at work relocating and hiring CPI and pilot plant employees, selecting the site for the pilot plant, engineering, building out, and equipping the facilities. MWV has invested more than $13 million in infrastructure and equipment to establish the pilot plant in Eastern Henrico County. Today the pilot plant is fully operational.

Bringing the Center for Packaging Innovation and the pilot plant to Richmond has created 114 new jobs over two years (108 housed in CPI facilities at MWV’s corporate headquarters downtown, 6 at the pilot plant); These high-value jobs, paying approximately $13 million in annual wages and employee incentives, supplement another 736 employees also located at corporate headquarters. In total, MWV employs 850 in Greater Richmond with annual wages and benefits of more than $117 million.

MWV and its Center for Packaging Innovation use unique consumer insight and deep market knowledge to identify unmet packaging needs. With size and capabilities nearing commercial scale the facility enables MWV to tackle bolder innovation projects by helping to minimize development risk. The pilot plant plays a key role in the company’s development of new products and/or technologies to address these needs, helping global brand owners achieve true speed to market with their products in geographies around the world.

Decision for move an easy one

 “The choice to move our Center for Packaging Innovation and the pilot plant to the Richmond area was an easy one,” says MWV Vice President of Global Innovation Alex Cedeño. “Our experience locating our global headquarters and our more than 700 corporate employees here a few years prior was so positive, we knew we needed to bring the CPI and pilot plant along to allow for even better collaboration and synergies. Siting the pilot plant in Eastern Henrico County gave us the kind of space we needed to test at close to commercial scale, while also giving our researchers, engineers, scientists and designers easy workflow and convenient access to interact and travel between the pilot plant and the headquarters building downtown.”

The MWV pilot plant consists of 48,000 square feet, 32 foot ceilings, 10 loading bay doors and 5 labs (Materials and Metallurgy Engineering, TAPPI Conditioned Materials Testing, Polymers and Packaging, Paper Science, and Coating). Its capabilities include: wood fiber development, polymer compounding and characterization, metallurgy and corrosion analysis, coatings and materials testing, form/fill/seal machines, die-cutting, plastic and paperboard thermoformers, distribution and supply chain testing, cup forming and converting, equipment prototyping, injection molding, paperboard slitting, winding and calendaring, coating, and multilayer polymer extrusion and lamination.