Duracell plans $60M in upgrades

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By Jenny Hartley

The local Duracell plant is planning a $60 million expansion, according to county officials.

The plant, which makes every Duracell AA battery in the United States, is planning about 20 to 25 new hires with the expansion, Lancaster County Economic Development Corp. President Keith Tunnell told County Council on Monday night.

It's not a lot of extra employees, but Tunnell said it's a good sign about the future of the plant, which now has about 500 employees here.

"I hope this means they'll be staying here for a long time," Tunnell said.

The company is planning to install new equipment at the Lancaster plant and building upgrades to accommodate the new equipment, Tunnell said.

The expansion was identified by LCEDC's Sharon Blackburn, the corporation's existing industry director. The company will receive a 6 percent fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement and a 25 percent rebate on city and county taxes for the first five years.

Duracell spokesman Kurt Iverson said the company is making technology upgrades and facility improvements over five years, and the company doesn't consider that a true expansion.

The company has made expensive heating and air improvements over the past year, but doesn't have plans to add on to the building right now.

"We will not be making any new products there," Iverson said. "It's a matter of making the best batteries."

Tunnell said the investment was $75 million, with $62 million in new equipment and $13 million in building improvements to accommodate the equipment. Duracell's estimate was more conservative, at $60 million.

The Lancaster plant, which opened 32 years ago, makes every Duracell AA battery in the United States, making it the most popular battery, Iverson said. In the past 15 years, the company has improved battery life by 50 percent.

Duracell is a division of Proctor & Gamble.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or (803) 283-1151