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West Pharmaceutical expanding to ramp up fight against COVID-19

$35 million investment to be completed by summer

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette West Pharmaceutical, Jersey Shore.

JERSEY SHORE — West Pharmaceutical is expanding as it plays a “critical role” in the fight against COVID-19.

The local legacy manufacturer of components and systems for injectable drug delivery, plastic packaging and other components for the healthcare and consumer products markets across the globe is investing $35 million in its facilities in the borough, including a 1,070 square-foot building expansion.

“The whole team at Jersey Shore is very excited about this project and what it means for our customers and patients’ lives around the world,” said Marty Miller, senior director of operations at West Pharmaceutical in Jersey Shore. “West’s Jersey Shore site is playing a critical role in the production of components being used directly in the fight against COVID-19.”

Preferring not to divulge details of just what the company is undertaking to help combat the pandemic, Eric Haman, West’s director of global corporate, said the investment will further allow West to work with “many of the top pharmaceutical companies” and in doing so, help “speed the successful development and large-scale manufacture of high-quality components required to serve customer needs for the delivery of a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine.”

“With the rapidly increasing demand to meet our customers’ needs, especially around COVID-19 vaccines and therapies, and our commitment to meet those needs, we needed to expand equipment resources, which required an expansion of our current manufacturing space,” Miller added.

The expansion is under way on the east side of the firm’s building on Oliver Street and should be completed by next summer.

It will bring more job opportunities to the community, Miller said.

Just how many new jobs was not made clear, but Miller said, “West is investing in people and we are currently looking to expand our workforce to support this critical effort.”

Many of the new positions added are in the areas of quality, maintenance and production according to Miller.

West’s manufacturing operations employ a sterile, protected environment.

For future expansion, the company has reportedly purchased The Robert H. Wheeland Community Center at 1201 Locust St. from the Citizens Hose Co. but has not yet begun any renovations of the building or property.

Miller said, “This expansion will be connected to the current building and will not be on the current Wheeland Center location. However, that location will help facilitate future growth.”

The community center was dedicated in 1995 to Bob Wheeland, a founding charter member who served the greater Jersey Shore Area for more than 30 years. He was a EMT, driver, firefighter, president, and chief.

The Wheeland Center was equipped to seat 250 people and hosted wedding receptions, community meetings and more.

As the center sits adjacent to West facilities, speculation has it that West will transform the space into offices.

A spokesperson for the fire company told the Sun-Gazette she could not confirm the sale “at this time.”

Though both Miller and Haman were hesitant to disclose in-depth details about the expansion and how it will inevitably help secure and distribute a safe vaccination, Haman offered that much of the investment in new equipment includes new presses that make rubber stoppers for vials and rubber plungers for syringes.

Horst Construction, general contractor, and many other local contractors are building and equipping the new addition.

West Pharmaceutical had already planned for future expansion investments in manufacturing space and equipment, but it was accelerated due to COVID-19, Miller said.

“The team has a real sense of pride about our mission of improving patient lives, and we look forward to this expansion and getting it operational so we can help make an even bigger difference in the fight against this pandemic,” Miller said.

“We look forward to being able to support our local community with more job opportunities and are excited that this investment supports a continued bright future for Jersey Shore.”

West Pharmaceuticals is a leading global manufacturer in the design and production of technologically advanced, high-quality, integrated containment and delivery systems for injectable medicines.

It has plants throughout the world and has experienced a fast rate of growth with its products.

For 2019, the company reported $1.840 billion in net sales.

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