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Smokeless tobacco products company starting $40.9M expansion

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Smokeless tobacco products company starting $40.9M expansion

By Keith Lawrence
The Messenger-Inquirer

Swedish Match is planning a $40.9 million expansion at its Owensboro smokeless tobacco plant.

And that will create 36 full-time jobs, the company announced Thursday.

"This is the second time in two years that they've decided to expand in Owensboro," Helen Mountjoy, interim president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp., said later.

In 2015, the company announced plans to build a $3.5 million, 10,000-square-foot Owensboro Research & Development Center at the 450,000-square-foot facility at 1121 Industrial Drive.

It opened last October.

"Owensboro is the place of choice for several international companies," Mountjoy said.

Swedish Match said it plans to build a 16,000-square-foot production area for ZYN, a "smokeless and spitless tobacco-derived nicotine pouch. "

ZYN, currently manufactured in Sweden, is a "tobacco leaf-free nicotine product," according to the company's website.

"The nicotine salt used in ZYN is derived from tobacco leaves, but once the salt is extracted, no part of the leaf remains," the site says.

The company said it will also expand its current facility by 34,000 square feet.

Construction is scheduled to begin this month and be completed in July 2019.

It is expected to cost $12.05 million and purchasing new equipment will add another $28.7 million to the cost.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved Thursday morning tax incentives totaling $150,000 for the project.

Swedish Match can also receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives from the Kentucky Skills Network for the project.

Kristian Lindfors, Swedish Match's North America director of operations, said, "We recently decided to invest in larger scale production capacity to more fully capitalize on the progress of some of our newer smokeless products."

The new project "will expand our existing facility for smokeless products in the U.S. and will primarily cater to U.S. demand, but could potentially address future launches in other markets," he said.

The Owenboro plant currently produces Timber Wolf, Longhorn and Red Man brands of moist snuff and Red Man, Southern Pride, J.D.'s Blend and Granger Select chewing tobacco.

It has 342 employees, including a 26-member research and development team.

Swedish Match's roots in Owensboro date back to 1973, when Pinkerton Tobacco opened its only North American smokeless tobacco manufacturing center here.

In 1985, Svenska Tobaks AB, a predecessor of Swedish Match, bought Pinkerton.

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