IRIS USA, a leading manufacturer of high-quality clear plastic storage products, pet products and ready-to-assemble furniture, broke ground Friday on a 500,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility along Commerce Drive in Humboldt Industrial Park East. The Japanese-based company is investing $84 million into the project and expects to hire nearly 100 employees.
State, county and local officials joined IRIS executives, who traveled from Japan and throughout the United States, for the groundbreaking ceremony. Dignitaries who gave their remarks during the groundbreaking included Sen. John Yudichak, Rep. Tarah Toohil, Jared Grissinger of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Action Team, Hazle Township Supervisors Chairman Jim Montone, Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Chair Dr. Gary Lawler, and IRIS USA President Hiroyuki (Doc) Takahashi and IRIS Chairman and CEO Akihiro Ohyama.
CAN DO President Kevin O’Donnell said, “CAN DO worked with representatives from IRIS and local and state partners for more than a year to help bring this project to Northeastern Pennsylvania and we truly believe today is a win-win situation for all involved. For IRIS, they have found a great strategic location to market and a dedicated workforce. For Greater Hazleton, we’re gaining an international plastics giant that is bringing nearly 100 high-quality manufacturing jobs to our area.”
A press release on the IRIS USA website states that the company, which has recently expanded into new product categories, such as housewares, and small appliances, chose Greater Hazleton “for its abundant workforce and geographic location in order to strengthen production efficiencies and supply channels through ecommerce distribution.” It adds that “IRIS plans to increase the number and variety of products offered to its customers.”
In the release, Takahashi adds, “We are very pleased to be working with such fine individuals in Luzerne County and the state of Pennsylvania as we embark on our company's first East Coast expansion plans.”
According to the IRIS release, construction of the new facility is expected to begin in late 2018 with completion by early 2020.
CAN DO officials partnered with members of the Governor’s Action Team, Penn’s Northeast, Hazle Township, the Hazleton Area School District, Luzerne County and Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad to provide the incentives that led to IRIS selecting Greater Hazleton.
“The groundbreaking of the Hazle Township facility isn’t just an important moment for the company – it’s a big moment for the entire community,” Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin said. “The nearly 100 jobs that will be created at the facility will provide a significant boost to the regional economy and manufacturing sector, and will provide Luzerne County families with full-time, reliable manufacturing careers. I congratulate IRIS USA on their expansion and look forward to seeing their growth in the years ahead.”
Headquartered in Sendai, Japan, IRIS is a global manufacturer of more than 19,000 household products and consumables. The company expanded into the U.S. market in 1992 and has its principal U.S. headquarters in Surprise, Arizona. Greater Hazleton is the world-renowned plastics manufacturing company’s fourth USA location, which also includes facilities in Wisconsin and Texas.