Genencor International plans to finish the first phase of its expansion by June, with the remainder scheduled for completion next year.

James Otterstein, Rock County economic development manager, said Genencor's expansion is physically small in size and will add only a handful of employees. But it's a major investment in terms of the technology inside the four walls, he said.

As a global biotechnology firm, Genencor specializes in discovering, developing and manufacturing industrial enzymes. The investment will enhance the company's enzyme manufacturing capabilities with technology-intensive applications, equipment and processes, Otterstein said.

Based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Genencor also has plants in California and New York.

Otterstein said the 130,000-square-foot Beloit plant services the company's agri-processing specialty division. It is staffed around the clock with highly trained lab, maintenance and process technicians, he said.

The Beloit plant competed with the Cedar Rapids plant for the expansion project, he said.

The project has the support of the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corp., which is making Genencor a $100,000 low-interest loan. The project also is in the running for other state assistance.

"This particular project is a testament to the collaboration that can exist between the public and private sectors," Otterstein said. "In the not-too-distant past, the outlook for the Beloit plant was less than stable.

"Thankfully, that situation blossomed into an exceptional opportunity to enhance this global biotechnology company's presence locally."

The Beloit plant has been operational under different owners since 1984. It opened as Enzyme Bio-Systems, which Genencor bought from Corn Products International in 2002.

On the corporate front, Genencor is going through another change.

DuPont, a science-based products and services company based Delaware, said in January that it will buy the Copenhagen-based Danisco, Genencor's corporate parent.

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