Ashley Studley/ Milford Daily News
Officials yesterday gathered to celebrate a commitment to manufacturing and job growth in town.
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-2nd, said a new furnace to melt recycled bottles for Verallia North America, a brand of Saint-Gobain Containers, is a significant investment for the area.
"This is a terrific day for Milford and the surrounding communities," Neal said. "Thanks to Saint-Gobain for its long-term investment, there are more than 200 jobs at this facility."
The Milford plant has been open since 1972 and specializes in recyclable beer, wine and spirit bottles and food jars.
When facing hardships last year, the company reached out to selectmen and politicians for help. Town Meeting last fall approved a 20-year tax increment financing deal for the company, which gives it a tax break on new investment.
"It's an example how management and labor embrace for a common goal," Neal said.
As part of a $35 million project, the company has installed a more efficient furnace slated to be finished by the end of the week.
Also included in the project is new equipment for various sections of the factory.
Housing and Economic Development Secretary Gregory Bialecki said it's a symbolic step forward.
"This represents for us a very exciting opportunity for Massachusetts going forward ... It's time to start looking ahead, and the governor and I feel very strongly advanced manufacturing is a very important part of that," Bialecki said.
President and CEO Joseph Grewe said the conversion from glass to plastic has hurt business over the years, but the company has found ways to survive.
"We had the unpleasant task of closing down a number of plants that were no longer economically viable. Other businesses opened and closed," Grewe said. "This plant reinvented itself from soda to beer."
While it was difficult to make a decision where to go in a tough economy, Grewe said the company knew it had to make a significant investment to succeed.
"We've taken the right steps, and we're very fortunate to have local, state and federal governments help the effort," he said.
State Sen. Richard Moore, D-Uxbridge, said the effort is symbolic of the relationships between various departments.
State Rep. John Fernandes, D-Milford, thanked the beer companies for their investment in glass, and the company for keeping hardworking people employed.
Grewe acknowledged everyone for their involvement.
"Thank you all for your support, and being here today to celebrate renewed vitality and jobs we'll continue to provide for the community for years to come," Grewe said.