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Merrillville-based MonoSol, which has been cleaning up with popular household products like Tide Pods, marked the opening of its new $95 million plant in Portage with Gov. Mike Pence and a traditional Japanese ceremony that included the breaking open of sake barrels.

MonoSol, which is a subsidiary of Japan-based Kuraray, added its second production facility in Porter County to keep up with strong demand for its water-soluble film, which can be found in Cascade pods and other products available at grocery stores nationwide. The company expects to hire 150 workers at the plant in the AmeriPlex at the Port business park over the next few years.

“This is a great day for Portage,” Pence said. “MonoSol is making products that are used all over the world and that’s a source of pride for the community.”

MonoSol has experienced double-digit growth year after year, President P. Scott Bening said. The company’s customers include Procter & Gamble and DuPont, and it helped revolutionize the way people do dishes and laundry around the world by developing the water-soluble film that makes single-serving pouches possible.

“Without MonoSol, we would not be where we are today in the growing dissolvable business,” said Scott Workman, director of Global Chemical and Ingredient Purchases for Procter & Gamble.

MonoSol’s new 300,000-square-foot plant will help it meet demand in a growing segment where it has at least 80 percent of the market share.

“Our business is growing,” Bening said. “There are huge opportunities for unit-dose laundry and automatic dishwasher detergents in developed and emerging markets around the world. By partnering with customers to drive innovation, we help develop new consumer and industrial applications while improving established products. Our DuneLand Facility features the latest technology to produce the next generation of water-soluble films and deliver the best quality and performance.”

The new plant is expected to boost MonoSol’s overall production capacity by 15 percent. It should be fully up and running next year, when the plant will run two lines around the clock for products like Bold and Ariel that are sold in the United Kingdom and all around the world.

“I see MonoSol’s products in the grocery store,” said Toshiyuki Iwado, consul-general of Japan in Chicago. “I use them in my residence.”

MonoSol has grown by 70 percent and invested $100 million in capital since it was acquired by Kuraray in 2012, Bening said. The company, which has local operations in Merrillville, Portage and LaPorte, now employs around 500 people.

The company expects to hire line operators, maintenance personnel, electricians and mechanics as it ramps up at the new plant at 1500 Louis Sullivan Drive in Portage.

For any information about jobs, check monosol.com/careers.(tncms-asset)596676f0-065e-11e6-bbac-00163ec2aa77"}}

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Business reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.