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Great Lakes holds ribbon cutting for new pilot plant

Posted on January 31, 2017

By Randal Curtman

This article was published today at 5:00 a.m.

By Randal Curtman

Managing Editor

EL DORADO — It was last February when a ground-breaking was held for the new $5 million, 11,000 square-foot Pilot Plant at Great Lakes Solutions’ South Plant facility in El Dorado.

On Monday, a group of plant employees, city and county officials and Gov. Asa Hutchinson were on hand for a ribbon cutting for the now completed Pilot Plant project. Great Lakes Solutions is a business of Chemtura Corporation.

“This is important, and not just for Arkansas,” said Gov. Hutchinson. “Chemtura is a global company, and the global marketplace is very important to us.”

As part of the expansion, Great Lakes Solutions will create six new high-paying jobs to support the company’s investment in the research-and-development facility, said Dave Bartley, technology manager for Great Lakes’ Arkansas plants.

“This is a new position for South Arkansas, and the company invested money in our facilities,” Bartley said.

With global headquarters in Philadelphia, Penn. Chemtura manufactures products in 11 countries and sells products in over 80 countries, according to the company website, The company has about 2,500 employees in research, manufacturing, sales and administrative facilities in every major market of the world, with regional headquarters and shared service centers in Shanghai, China; Middlebury, Connecticut, USA; and Manchester, United Kingdom/Frauenfeld, Switzerland.

“The new pilot plant is part of Chemtura’s ongoing commitment to innovation and new product development,” Bartley said.

Bartley said the new plant is designed to “serve as a scale-up and test facility within the global technology group and will bridge between traditional laboratory experimentation and full-scale commercial production.”

“R&D is about the future,” said Gov. Hutchinson. “Great Lakes Solutions’ decision to build their new research-and-development plant here gives us confidence that they plan to be here a long time.”

Great Lakes Solutions’ El Dorado manufacturing sites sit atop a bromine-rich brine reserve, the second largest brine reserve in the world, known as the Smackover Limestone Formation at a depth of 7,500 to 8,000 feet, according to a news release from the company.

Great Lakes Solutions extracts the brine from their wells located throughout the area, and the brine is transported to the Company’s Arkansas plants through a network of pipelines. There are three manufacturing plants, along with support services, which currently employ approximately 500 people.

The facilities manufacture bromine used to make chemical-intermediates, building blocks that are used by other manufacturers to produce final consumer products.

“Seeing the company invest in a pilot plant facility speaks to the future plans for continued innovation and growth potential, and to have that investment made here in our El Dorado plant further speaks to the confidence in our employees’ ability to produce quality products that meet our customer’s needs, and produce those products in a safe and environmentally responsible manner,” Joey Hamlin, site manager of the El Dorado facility, stated in the release.

“We have assets in Arkansas that would be hard to duplicate anywhere in the world,” Gov. Hutchinson said.

“This investment is about the future,” said Chemtura CEO Craig Rogerson of Philadelphia. “This may not be as big an investment as say a pipeline, but it is important in what it signifies, which is the future.”

“We have a very strong commitment to this site, and we are committed to growing the business,” Rogerson said.

Randal Curtman is the managing editor of the El Dorado News-Times. He may be reached at 870-862-6611 or by email at