A few months ago, a French company crossed the Atlantic and saved 500 local jobs after Pfizer announced it would close its Eastern Henrico plant. That company, Fareva, is now in full production, with plans to grow and add more jobs.
Every Chapstick sold around the world is made in this Eastern Henrico plant, plus other products, such as Anbesol, Advil, and Robitussin.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer acquired the plant when it bought out Wyeth, then needed to sell or close it.
Not wanting to lose 500 local and high paying jobs, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership stepped in.
"They did indicate to us they were actively looking for a buyer for the property and engaged us to work with their team and the team of the potential acquiring company," explained VEDP Director of Finance Jerry Giles.
To sweeten the deal to the prospective buyer, Governor McDonnell approved a $650,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund to help Henrico County with the project and an $800,000 performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance is also providing help with staff retraining and recruitment.
Then in came Fareva.
"Fareva means, in the old French, 'to make you dream,'" said Fareva's U.S. CEO, Laurent Miale.
Fareva's dream was to move into the U.S. market, opening a U.S. headquarters in New Jersey, and buying the Henrico plant.
"We already had a partnership with Pfizer in Europe. We bought two of their factories in the past," said Miahle.
Fareva manufactures products for other companies: cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food, and home care & industrial products at 28 other plants around the world.
"We contract for other companies," said Miahle. "They tell us the specification, they tell us the products they want to put on the market. We develop, we manufacture."
Fareva basically saves other companies, such as Pfizer, money. Instead of a company having to buy all of its own equipment to make its products, Fareva can use the same equipment to make similar products for multiple companies, lowering production costs.
Fareva's arrival came with an announcement that it would invest about $40 million and create 90 more jobs over a few years. It continues to make Pfizer's products at the Henrico plant and this fall will start making cosmetics for a yet-to-be-named company, using new technology.
"The new technology will be within a site that we acquire or we will bring this technology within Richmond," Miahle added.
Making a dream come true for both Fareva and workers looking for jobs.