Kodak to add high-speed Sonora line in Columbus, create about 40 jobs

New business line should be up and running by the end of this year, company says

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comApril 24, 2014 

The Kodak plant in Columbus will land a new manufacturing line that is expected to bring it 40 additional jobs.

Rochester, N.Y.-based Eastman Kodak Co. announced the new business Thursday, saying the Columbus facility at 1 Polychrome Parkway in Corporate Ridge Business Park, will add a high-speed line for its “Sonora” printing plates.

The local plant already produces digital offset printing plates used by printers and publishers throughout the Americas. The Sonora plates are a product the company said is growing rapidly in popularity. The plates “remove the plate processing step completely,” without losing the quality that traditional printing plates offer, the company said. They also are more environmentally friendly.

“We see the shift toward Sonora plates growing to a very significant volume,” Robert Price, general manager of Kodak’s Worldwide Plate Operations, said in a statement. “We need to manufacture Sonora plates in each region in order to deliver enough capacity to meet the demand. Also, it’s important to have manufacturing in each region in order to provide the ultimate customer service — delivering what customers need, when they need it.”

Kodak said Monday that the Columbus facility currently employs more than 200 people. The “multi-million dollar” investment in the plant calls for equipment to be installed for the new line by the end of this year, with production ramping up in 2015.

Kodak, at one time a photography giant known for its cameras and 35mm film, was forced to change its business model with the advent of digital cameras.

The Columbus plant, however, has survived the transition, with a $15 million expansion completed there in February 2009. That project added 26,000 square feet to the plant, giving it a total of 276,000 square feet.

In 2011, the local operation added more space to manufacture advanced digital printing plates. The cost for the building alone was nearly $4 million. At that time, the local facility employed just over 300 people, although there has been a gradual downsizing to the current level.

A publicly traded company, Eastman Kodak shares (Ticker: KODK) jumped 55 cents, or nearly 2 percent, to close at $29.97 in trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. The firm posted net income of just under $2 billion in 2013, improved from a nearly $1.4 billion loss in 2012.

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