Lexington County Chronicle: Nephron Nitrile Plant Eyes Fall Opening in West Columbia

August 29, 2022

November. Or maybe October. Or perhaps September.

That was the tease Nephron Pharmaceuticals CEO Lou Kennedy gave the crowd in a hanger at Columbia Metropolitan Airport on the morning of Aug. 29, speculating about the projected opening date for the Nephron Nitrile glove plant in West Columbia, which is set to bring 250 jobs to the area and annually produce 2.5 billion of the gloves made to handle hazardous substances.

“I keep pushing them to go from November to October to September,” Kennedy said, referring to the company’s South Korean partners, with which it entered into technology-sharing agreements to help bring the plant to fruition.

The first equipment for the plant, including manufacturing lines, arrived via plane earlier the same morning. Kennedy was joined by Gov. Henry McMaster, and other S.C. officials including state Sen. Nikki Setzler and Secretary of Commerce Harry Lightsey, as her company marked the occasion.

According to a release, the more-than-400,000-square-foot Nephron Nitrile facility to be located at Saxe Gotha Industrial Park, where Nephron is headquartered, is nearing the end of construction.

Kennedy said it’s been pretty much smooth sailing since the company announced the plant in July of last year, but did touch on one snag the company has hit.

“The only impediment we have is literally our own neighbors right here in Cayce,” she said. “They’re not real clear about wanting us to grow in Saxe Gotha Park because of water issues. But we hope we’re going to overcome those.”

McMaster touted the importance of pharmaceutical endeavors like Nephron Nitrile choosing to make South Carolina their home.

“It’s a dangerous world,” he said. “And the supply chain is disrupted, of course, by the pandemic. The supply chain can be disrupted by a lot of other things as well — look at what’s going on in Ukraine, there’s some supply chains that are disrupted there. But it is a dangerous world and having the capacity and the ability to do these important things — particularly pharmaceuticals, things that keep people well, alive, healthy and happy in our state — are enormously powerful.”

Kennedy credited the airport and UPS for completing the large shipment.

“Two weeks ago, I didn’t believe we’d be able to get a plane of this size full of our first line of equipment into CAE,” she said.

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