Chemical company PQ Corp. plans $120 million expansion in Kansas City, Kan.

PQ Corp. on Thursday announced plans to invest $120 million to expand its chemical plant in Kansas City, Kan., and add 40 to 50 jobs.

The Pennsylvania-based company held a groundbreaking Thursday with Gov. Sam Brownback and other state and local officials.

The investment will expand the size of the plant at 1700 Kansas Ave. Design and engineering work has already started, with construction to be completed by the end of 2014.

PQ, which has several manufacturing plants around the country, said it picked the one in Kansas City, Kan., for expansion because of existing infrastructure, its dedicated workforce and strong backing from the state.

“We are growing this business,” Mike Boyce, chairman and chief executive of PQ, told the workers at a steak luncheon after the ceremony. “And we’re going to keep growing this business.”

He said the expansion would meet growing worldwide demand for specialty catalysts, and the investment demonstrates the company’s commitment to Kansas, Wyandotte County and the Kansas City area.

The product manufactured at the plant is shipped worldwide and has various uses, including reducing harmful emissions. The plant now has 100 employees.

Economic development aid from the state included business incentives for hiring of additional employees and sales tax incentives for capital construction purchases to be used in the expansion, the company said.

State and local governments will provide about $25 million to the company in grants, loans and training costs. State officials said they expected to recoup their investment in the next two years.

“This is excellent,” Brownback said. “A high-end, chemical manufacturing, global-export footprint. High-wage jobs. Lots of capital investment. This is what you’re looking for.”

PQ Corp., based in Malvern, Pa., is a leading producer of inorganic specialty chemicals and engineered glass materials.

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