Spartech Plastics in Wichita to expand and add jobs

Spartech Plastics announced Thursday that it is expanding its Wichita plant and plans to add workers over the next two years.

It's a win for local economic developers who have spent more than a year focused on holding onto local manufacturing plants whose owners are trying to cut capacity.

Spartech will expand its 60,000-square-foot plant at 1444 S. Tyler Road by 10,000 square feet. It will retain 75 employees in Wichita and promised to hire 18 new employees over the next two years.

The investment in building and equipment in Wichita is valued at $4 million.

The expansion is expected to be done by June.

Spartech is cutting a similar operation in Arlington, Texas, and will bring that production to Wichita.

The company is in the midst of cutting capacity nationwide because of downturns among customers in construction, housing and aerospace.

Staff with the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition said they intervened after discovering, as part of a program to visit local manufacturers last year, that Spartech was considering a consolidation.

GWEDC didn't release the details but said it arranged a package of state and local incentives. Local contributions will come before the Wichita City Council and the Sedgwick County Commission in coming weeks.

GWEDC president Vicki Pratt Gerbino said an overwhelming number of manufacturers are considering consolidation to cut capacity, because of the downturn and because of growing productivity.

But there are opportunities as well as threats coming from the move to consolidate, she said.

Wichita gained jobs and investment from this move, as well as several others.

GWEDC last year visited 110 local companies to find out what pressures they face and what management is thinking if or when they consolidate.

"I think it will continue well into the future," she said. "With the entrance into a global economy, they really and truly have to be concerned with where their footprint is and the costs associated with it."