Steps taken for Corning Inc. to acquire Danville plant; would eventually employ 100

Glass and ceramics manufacturer Corning Inc. might bring new life to a Danville plant that closed two years ago.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority board on Thursday gave preliminary approval for $6.5 million in negotiated tax incentives for Corning to acquire the Philips North American Lighting plant on Danville's west side. Coincidentally, Corning owned the plant 60 years ago but sold it to Philips in 1983.

The approval of tax incentives outlines the state's commitment to a project should it occur in Kentucky. In general, when a company accepts a tax incentive, it can keep that amount of money, which it would otherwise pay in taxes, assuming it fulfills the terms of the deal.

Corning spokesman Joe Dunning confirmed the company's interest in the Philips plant Friday but cautioned that "we have not closed on it yet." The project would initially bring 40 jobs to Danville, but the retooled plant would eventually employ 100 people, the KEDFA documents said.

The average hourly wage target including employee benefits would be $25 an hour, the documents said.

The Danville site was originally a Corning Glass Works plant when it was established in 1952. Philips bought it in 1983 and made incandescent bulbs there. Philips closed the facility in February 2011. The plant employed as many as 300 people in the 1980s.

Corning has another plant in Harrodsburg that makes Gorilla Glass for smart phones. The Danville site could support future needs of the Harrodsburg plant, Dunning said.

"Corning has not determined the final use" of the Danville building, Dunning said in a prepared statement. "There are several possibilities under consideration, including manufacturing, warehousing or a combination of those.

"A closing date has not been set and Corning is working with Philips to transition the site for potential future uses," Dunning said. "We are grateful for the ongoing support by the state of Kentucky in fostering new business investment and jobs in an area we have a great history with."

The state documents said Corning "has developed a new glass process and has received significant attention from a key customer and is considering bringing production to Danville," the documents said.

Dunning said he could not discuss the new glass process.

The state documents said Corning intends to spend $100 million to resurrect the plant. That includes $2 million on land, $28 million on the building and $70 million on equipment.

The news is good for Boyle County, where unemployment is 9.4 percent. Kentucky's unemployment rate is 7.9 percent.

Jody Lassiter, president of the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership, said in a statement Friday that Corning asked him not to comment on the project.

"I must respect the company's insistence that no local statements be made about the project at this time," Lassiter said. "The approval of state incentives is preliminary, and several critical steps remain to be taken at the local level to make this project a reality."