O-I: Colorado plant boosts area economy

The new O-I glass manufacturing plant in Windsor, Colorado is expected to have a USD 462 million impact on the state economy over the next decade said a local economic development chief. The plant sup…

The new O-I glass manufacturing plant in Windsor, Colorado is expected to have a USD 462 million impact on the state economy over the next decade said a local economic development chief. The plant supplies beer giant Anheuser-Busch with 3.5 million bottles a day. USD 5 million in training grants, tax breaks and other incentives were offered by the city of Windsor, Weld County and the state to attract glassmaker O-I to the 32 hectare site. The incentive package is already paying off, said Larry Burkhardt, president of the Greeley/Weld Economic Development Action Partnership. The plant started up its first furnace in August 2005 and is now in full production, providing bottles exclusively to the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Fort Collins. “Initial estimates were 150 jobs, and there are now 200 good jobs with an average wage of USD 50,000”, Burkhardt said. Over the next 10 years, the plant is expected to have at least a USD 31 million impact on Windsor“s economy, a USD 159 million impact on Weld County and a USD 462 million impact on the state, Burkhardt said. O-I is the largest manufacturer of glass containers in the world with plants in 22 countries. The new plant is the most technologically advanced of its kind in the world and will produce more than 1 billion bottles a year, said Dwayne Wendler, the plant manager. Since the 1980s, bottle manufacturers have been closing plants as plastic packaging grows in popularity, said Matt Longthorne, O-I“s North America president. The Windsor facility is the first such plant built in the USA for 23 years. The Fort Collins brewery was supplied by bottle plants in Oklahoma and Minnesota owned by French manufacturer Saint-Gobain and Anchor Glass Container Corp. before the arrival of the O-I plant. “However, glass containers are a fairly expensive thing to transport more than 250 miles, and you need a source of supply closer to your brewery”, Longthorne said. O-I looked three sites in Wyoming and eight in Colorado before deciding on the Windsor location, said Ken Lovejoy, O-I vice president and manager of facilities engineering. The company was looking for a community with adequate power and natural-gas supplies, with a good road network and workforce, within 100 miles of Fort Collins, Lovejoy said.