Stepan Company has begun construction on its new Stepan Agricultural Solutions Innovation and Customer Experience Center in Barrow County, located near its Winder manufacturing site.

Stepan Company’s chief technology and sustainability officer, Jason Keiper, and David Allen, global business development director for surfactants, along with Barrow County officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the project in December. The investment is intended to facilitate collaboration with customers and to further improve Stepan’s research and development in the agricultural industry, according to a news release.

The Stepan Agricultural Solutions Innovation and Customer Experience Center also will be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) facility in the county, the release said. It will feature a greenhouse, training center for Stepan employees, distribution partners and customers across the globe along with a lab for spray application testing and a separate lab for formulation design.

Stepan will also install a Collaboration Lab where technical experts can offer real-time customer support from any location with internet connection using web meeting technology. With this interactive digital tool, Stepan will be able to offer live formulation tutorials to customers wherever they are, the release said.

“(The Innovation and Customer Experience Center) is a testament to our commitment to safe and sustainable agriculture, our customers’ growth and to farmers worldwide who face ever-increasing challenges that require new innovations,” Keiper said.

The location was also chosen for its temperate climate that will enable Stepan to test year-round and help accelerate the rate at which products are moved to large-scale production.

Stepan also expects the facility to contribute to the development of the agricultural industry in Barrow County in the future. Near the University of Georgia and other universities with strong agricultural programs, Stepan hopes to be a resource for students and stimulate economic growth for area residents.

Stepan Company was founded in 1932 by Alfred C. Stepan Jr. Headquartered in Northfield, Ill., Stepan manufactures basic and intermediate chemicals, including surfactants, specialty products, germicidal and fabric softening quaternaries, phthalic anhydride (P.A.), polyurethane polyols and special ingredients for the food, supplement and pharmaceutical markets.

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