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Shell Catalysts & Technologies investing $20 million in Michigan City

Shell Catalysts & Technologies plans to invest $20 million in Michigan City.

Royal Dutch Shell subsidiary Shell Catalysts & Technologies plans to invest an estimated $34.5 million in its 68-year-old Michigan City plant over the next three years.

The firm will buy equipment, improve infrastructure and update its plant, which makes alumina powder that's used in oil refining catalysts in refineries around the world. It's a key component in making gasoline, jet fuel and other hydrocarbon fuel products.

“I am very familiar with this global company and excited about the significant investment they are making,” Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer said. “This demonstrates their commitment to Michigan City, and my administration will continue to support companies, such as Shell Catalysts & Technologies, that provide employment opportunities and are great community partners.”

The factory at 1800 U.S. 12 near the lakefront in Michigan City dates back to 1951, when it was opened by American Cyanamid. Shell formed a joint venture with the company and then took over the Michigan City facility. It's now run by Shell Catalysts & Technologies, whose oil refining catalysts command between 15% and 30% of the global market.

The $20 million investment will let the company install machinery that will improve reliability and allow it to expand its operation. The company plans to replace tanks and pumps, and build a new storage warehouse.

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“EDCMC is proud to partner with existing businesses to help them remain and grow in Michigan City," said Clarence Hulse, executive director for Economic Development Corp. Michigan City, Indiana. "We are happy to assist businesses like Shell that choose to stay and invest in our community."

Michigan City gave the company a $1.5 million property tax abatement as a reward for the investment, which will help retain 44 jobs and an annual payroll of $3.8 million.

The factory, which ships its alumina powder to catalyst manufacturing facilities in California and Belgium, has a wide impact. 

"Across the world, all molecules going into vehicles have a significant chance of touching material that came from Michigan City," Economic Development Corp. Michigan City, Indiana, said in a news release.

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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.