Up to 300 new jobs could be created by a global pharmaceutical packaging giant in the coming years on a 44-acre site in Waterford where construction will start next month.
West Pharmaceutical Services, which makes packaging components and "drug delivery systems" for pharmaceutical products, announced last year it will be employing 150 people at its new Waterford operation.
However, at a ground-breaking ceremony yesterday, company executives said that while they hope to have 150 employees on site by 2018, that could increase to 300 in the following years.
"We're going to stay at 150 [jobs] by 2018," West's chief executive Eric Green said in Waterford. "The site itself has the capacity, based on the sheer size and what we're seeing for the future of our business, for 250 to 300 future employees or colleagues here on the site."
The location on the edge of Waterford city, close to the Cork Road and in an area where a number of pharmaceutical and technological companies have chosen to base themselves in recent years, is at Knockhouse on the Old Kilmeaden Road.
The site has been cleared for construction work to begin, with civil work such as services due to start next month in preparation for the 8,500 sq m facility.
Company president Karen Flynn said recruitment for some of the 150 positions due to be in place by 2018 will start "very soon," with five employees already in place to get things up and running.
“We’re doing a lot of work on the design and development of the facility so we’ll be starting with engineers… As we get going, we’re going to be adding operators. Other posts will include machinists, project managers, administrators, procurement.”
She added that the company will be “reaching out to the community in due course” when recruitment gets into full swig.
The project is supported by IDA Ireland and Mr Green praised the “support” received by the company from the IDA as well as from Waterford City and County Council and the local community.
“It’s very exciting,” he said after watching the mayor of Co Waterford and the mayor of the city metropolitan area, James Tobin and Lola O’Sullivan, help with the ceremonial “ground-breaking” of the site.
The facility will manufacture packaging components for insulin injector cartridges and other “high-value” packaging components for injectable drugs and is expected to be in operation by the late 2018.
West already has a manufacturing and development centre in Mulhuddart, Dublin, since 2005. The company is headquartered in Pennsylvania and had sales worth US$1.42 billion worldwide last year.
IDA Ireland’s southeast regional manager Anne-Marie Tierney-Le Roux said the agency had been working with West for the last 18 months.
“They were identified as a target company a number of years ago,” she said. “Today is the start of a new development within Waterford… It’s a positive day for Waterford and reaffirmation and confirmation that Waterford is a positive place to site business. We’re very happy.”