Plastikon plans major expansion to East Hills plant, requests free land from county

Plastikon Healthcare LLC is planning to expand its East Hills Business Park plant with at least a $50 million, 100,000-square-foot project and is seeking some free land from the county to accommodate future growth.

Sandy Dixon, Plastikon general manager, said the Plastikon corporate board would make the final decision on the details of the expansion in the coming weeks. To be decided is whether the company should do the expansion in phases or as one large project, she said.

The local plant manufactures medical devices, pharmaceuticals and supplements on contract for other companies. The plant also manufactures the plastic containers the pharmaceuticals and supplements are packaged in, Dixon said.

An increase in orders from new and existing customers is driving the expansion, Dixon said. Among those is a large pharmaceutical order, which spurred interest from other potential customers when news of that order hit the street, she said. That new interest, in turn, set up the board’s coming decision on how large the expansion should be, she said.

Plastikon’s parent company opened its East Hills’ site in 2011. It currently employees 22 full-time and “several” temporary employees, Dixon said. With expansion, it would employ “dozens” more, she wrote in a letter to Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug.

In the letter, Plastikon is requesting the Douglas County Commission transfer 9.38 acres of county-owned land adjacent to Plastikon’s East Hills property to the company. The manufacturer also is asking the county and city to forgive $40,648 in special assessments that are attached to the property. Waiving the special assessments, which are special taxes to pay for utilities and infrastructure that has been built in East Hills Business Park would be appropriate given how much Plastikon plants to invest at the site, the letter states.

The initial expansion likely would not need the additional 9 acres of property. Dixon said the company likely could do a 100,000 square foot expansion — plus the dozens of jobs — on property the company already owns in the East Hills Business Park. But the company believes it could need additional property to do other expansions in the future.

Weinaug said Plastikon was making the property request now with his encouragement.

“I pushed them to do it sooner than later,” he said. “When businesses like Plastikon are growing and getting new contracts, they want to move quickly. Government bodies don’t always move that fast. It’s clearly property they ought to control. The County Commission has done this before for small-sized parcels when it made sense for businesses with the potential to grow.”

Britt Crum-Cano, economic development coordinator for the city of Lawrence, said the county has forwarded Plastikon’s request to write off the special assessments and the request would be on an upcoming Lawrence City Commission agenda. At this time, the city has not received any other economic incentive requests from Plastikon about the expansion, she said.

In other business, the County Commission will:

• Consider participation in Baldwin City’s recently created neighborhood revitalization program, which makes available 100 percent rebates for five years for new construction and improvements to existing properties that increase their value by 10 percent or more.

• Receive a 2016 economic development report from Crum-Cano.

• Receive a report on a March used-tire recycling effort funded with a $10,000 Kansas Department of Health and Environment grant and $8,884 from the county. In a report on the effort, Eileen Horn, county sustainability director, writes that 6,179 tires were collected and 114.45 tons of rubber recycled during the event.

The Douglas County Commission meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. For the complete agenda, visit