Corning to pump up the volume of amplifiers with new Pennsylvania plant

Corning Inc. (Corning, NY) will invest $50 million in an optical amplifier manufacturing facility to be located in Benton Township, PA, north of Scranton. When fully operational, the plant will double the company's manufacturing capability in photonic modules.

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Corning Inc. (Corning, NY) will invest $50 million in an optical amplifier manufacturing facility to be located in Benton Township, PA, north of Scranton. When fully operational, the plant will employ approximately 1,000 people and more than double the company's manufacturing capability in photonic modules.

The Benton Township plant will become Corning's second photonics plant, modeled after a similar one outside Corning, NY. Built two years ago, it already is approaching capacity because of demand for telecommunications network components, and it has 200 to 300 job openings, Corning spokesman Robert W. DeMallie says. The company has nearly exhausted the labor pool in Corning, but needed a location within a few hours of its research facilities there.

It also wanted an existing factory plant that it could convert quickly. The plant is occupied by Northrop Grumman Corp., which employs about 70 workers there, but was planning to close, according to DeMallie. Corning will take over the lease from Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce's nonprofit development corporation.

In making the announcement, Corning's chairman and CEO Roger G. Ackerman credited Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Ridge with creating a "progressive business environment." To lure the company to Pennsylvania, the state reportedly gave Corning $3 million in cash, including money for job training, and $3 million in tax breaks.

Corning plans to start hiring this month in Scranton, and expects to reach 1,000 employees within one year, DeMallie says. It hopes to ship its first products in July.

Corning is the industry's leading supplier of erbium doped fiber amplifiers used in communications networks as well as modules, components, and other photonic networking products. The company's sales for 1999 were $4.3 billion. It expects 70% of this year's revenues to come from its communications products, up from 25% three years ago. In the last year, acquisitions and new hires have nearly doubled the number of company employees to 33,000.

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