DuPont Will Depart $500M Kevlar Factory That Opened in 2011

DuPont plans to largely abandon a $500 million plant in South Carolina after just six years.

DuPont plans to largely abandon a $500 million plant in South Carolina after just six years.

The Post and Courier reports that the Delaware chemical giant last month notified workers that it would shift production of Kevlar fiber at Berkeley County, S.C., to its plant in Richmond, Va.

DuPont will continue to maintain its four-decade presence at the site near the Cooper River β€” about 30 miles north of Charleston β€” but 113 of the plant's workers will need to find new positions either within DuPont or at other companies, the paper reported.

About 50 workers will remain at an adjacent facility producing Hytrel heat-resistant fiber.

The Cooper River site was purchased by DuPont in 1970 but almost immediately dealt with global market turmoil as the market for its first product, polyester, crashed later that decade.

DuPont signaled its intent to maintain a larger presence in South Carolina for years when it announced the new Kevlar production in 2007.

The company reportedly projected that demand for the high-strength fiber, most commonly associated with bulletproof vests, would jump in coming years. Instead, competing products cut into its market share and demand from the military and energy companies eased.

DuPont is also in the midst of cutting costs ahead of its massive merger with Dow Chemical, and the larger Richmond plant already houses most of the company's Kevlar production.

The company has not determined what it will do with the factory once production is moved.

β€œThis change will make it possible to invest in the future growth and innovation of the Kevlar business,” company officials told The Post and Courier in a statement.

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