Houston-based ALTIVIA Ketones & Additives LLC announced earlier this month that it has entered into an agreement to buy the Dow Acetone Derivatives plant at Institute, along with the surrounding 460-acre Institute Industrial Park.

The planned sale, expected to close by the end of this year, allows the acetone derivatives plant, the largest production facility of its kind in North America, "to continue reliably and safely serving its customers," according to an announcement of the agreement by Dow.

The Institute plant manufactures ketones and carbinols, used mainly in the coatings, adhesives and pharmaceutical industries.

"Acquiring this facility and associated technology provides downstream expansion for ALTIVIA's acetone production capacity and access to global markets for acetone derivatives," said ALTIVIA CEO Michael Jusbasche said in the announcement. "Additionally, the Institute Industrial Park's excess capacity of utilities and services provide options to install additional chemical production for a fraction of the cost of alternatives."

Selling the acetone derivatives business to ALTIVIA "is directly aligned with our more focused portfolio and goal of driving a higher return on invested capital," said DOW CEO Jim Fitterling in a prepared statement. Under the agreement, Dow will remain a tenant on the site and retain ownership of certain manufacturing assets there.

The 460-acre tract involved in the sale was once a part of Union Carbide's Institute plant and became an industrial park in the mid-1980s, after Carbide sold the operation to the French chemical manufacturer Rhone-Poulenc.

According to Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, ALTIVIA has pledged to retain the 61 employees now working for Dow at the Institute plant. The nine companies now operating at the Institute Industrial Park, including the new US Methanol plant, scheduled to go into production early next year, will continue operating without interruption as the property changes hands, Carper said.

Half of the industrial park's 460 acres are available for development, according to Carper.

"Any opportunity for new economic development in Kanawha County is one that brings excitement to the commission," said Kanawha Couinty Commissioner Ben Salango. "We welcome ALTIVIA to the community and look forward to them growing the Institute plant."

ALTIVIA was founded in 1986 as a manufacturer of water treatment chemicals and has since branched into specialty chemicals and petrochemicals.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.

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