More than 100 employees, residents, civic leaders and state and local elected officials spent Tuesday afternoon at the LyondellBasell Morris Complex, celebrating the company’s 50 years in Morris and marking the grand opening of the new $55 million Morris Manufacturing Center.
The MMC includes a state of the art control room, laboratory, offices, maintenance shop, conference rooms and other facilities. The new building will provide a collaborative environment for the more than 500 employees at the plastic resin manufacturing site.
“It just expresses the importance of this facility; it’s been here for 50 years and has contributed a lot over those
50 years,” LyondellBasell CEO Bob Patel said. “With the advent of shale gas, it’s renewed the lease on life for this facility, and over the last 10 years, we’ve been investing over $700 million into the site. It’s an important part of our worldwide system.”
The 50th anniversary coincides with the grand opening of the MMC, which will bring employees who were housed throughout the site to a single location. Patel said the new building provides safety for employees by keeping workers inside a single facility, which also promotes teamwork.
Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton also attended the event, noting that companies like LyondellBasell are valuable to the state’s economy.
“Fifty years is something to celebrate, and I’m excited to be here for that,” Stratton said. “But I also just want to say how important it is when we think about LyondellBasell, the jobs that are created, the work that they are doing around manufacturing that Gov. [JB] Pritzker and I both have an extreme interest that we continue to grow industries in our [state]. Illinois is an economic hub; manufacturing is important to our economy.”
Stratton added that companies such as LyondellBasell provide good-paying jobs. She said the state’s Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan is helping the state with important infrastructure projects that ultimately support businesses such as LyondellBasell.
“We want to see them right here, in Morris, in the state of Illinois,” Stratton said. “We want to see them expanding, and we want to make sure that businesses understand that Gov. Pritzker and I welcome them to the state of Illinois, and those who are here, we want them to stay.”
The LyondellBasell Morris facility originally was built in 1969, and encompasses more than 700 acres along Route 6. The complex manufactures ethylene, propylene, low density polyethylene and linear low density polyethylene. The plastic resins made with those chemical compounds help create products used everyday, from plastic gas tanks to food-safe plastic bags and water bottles to plastic toys.
“The products we produce here go into things that enable everyday life,” Patel said. “Toothbrushes and automobile interiors, and things like that. From morning to night, the things that you touch that are made out of plastics that make our lives more convenient and easier, we produce here at the site. While we may be making the ingredients, the ultimate products are things you touch and use everyday and make your life easier.”
Patel said that LyondellBasell is committed to creating sustainable products.
“Sustainability means to have as little impact on the environment as possible with our products or with how we produce the products,” Patel said, adding that the company is especially focused on plastic waste.
“Plastic waste leaking into the environment ends up in the oceans and creates these ecological issues,” Patel continued. “So, our company is very active in working with very large companies across the value chain to prevent the leakage of plastic into the environment. The way we do that is we collect it after its’ been used and we recycle it, make new plastics, create circularity.”
The LyondellBasell Morris Complex is one of the largest chemical plants in the Midwest. The company has an annual effect of $173 million on the local economy.
“Like the technology that comes from Silicon Valley or the cars that come from Detroit, the products that we make here in Morris are important to our broader economy,” Patel said.
After the 50-year celebration, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the MMC with tours of the building after.
State Sen. Sue Rezin, state Rep. David Welter, Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick, and Grundy County Board Chairman Chris Balkema also participated in the ribbon cutting at the MMC alongside Patel and Senior Vice President of Human Resources Dale Friedrichs, dite manager Randy Tatum, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing Americas Mike VanDerSnick and Executive Vice President of Manufacturing Dan Coombs.
Kopczick read a proclamation at the ribbon cutting for the MMC, marking Nov. 5 as LyondellBasell of Morris Complex Day.