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Bluestar buys 20-acre York site

Bluestar Silicones has purchased the former Hella building in York, allowing the company to combine its production and research facilities.

Bluestar - which makes silicone products for the aerospace, health care, automotive and sticky label markets - will move its operations in Rock Hill and Ventura, Calif., to York.

The Hella building has 226,000 square-feet on a 20-acre site on Park Place Road, off S.C. 5. Terms of the sale were not released. Bluestar's investment is estimated at $19.8 million for the new building, new equipment and the cost of moving equipment from the two plants.

"This new site offers us a sizable footprint to expand our manufacturing workshops (and) to increase our laboratory capabilities," said J. Christopher York, president of Bluestar Silicones USA. "It is an exciting time for Bluestar Silicones and the customers we serve."

The York facility will become Bluestar Silicones' primary research and development center, bringing employees from the two plants under one roof where larger laboratory facilities and new pilot equipment are expected to improve product development and support.

Bluestar Silicones anticipates adding 60 new jobs to the 50 people it employs in Rock Hill. Some of the employees from Ventura are expected to transfer to the new plant.

The move to York will start in November, company officials said.

The move caps an intense recruitment battle for the plant.

Local and North Carolina economic developers had been talking with Bluestar for three years. The company had outgrown its Rock Hill facility and was looking to consolidate operations.

In February, Charlotte and North Carolina officials announced Bluestar would relocate to the former Virkler chemical plant on Steele Creek Road, which has 147,000 square feet on 19 acres.

The state and Mecklenburg County committed to more than $600,000 in incentives, with more than half coming from the OneNC Fund, a state economic development account.

South Carolina and local economic development officials countered with similar incentives. In August, the company confirmed it would stay in York County and buy the Hella building.

Hella was one of the sites local economic developers showed Bluestar during the initial recruitment. It was built by the German manufacturer of lights for the automotive industry. Hella occupied the building for 10 years before closing in the spring of 2009.

Bluestar will produce its full range of silicone technologies at the new York facility, company officials said.