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December 06, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Genera plans nearly $350 million expansion in Vonore

This expansion, with initial capacity online in Q1 2024, will create more than 230 local jobs in East Tennessee upon completion.

Sustainable molded fiber and biomaterials company Genera announced Wednesday it has broken ground on a nearly $350 million expansion of its Sustainable Biomaterials Campus in Vonore, enabling increased manufacturing, production, and distribution operations.

The expansion adds more than 150,000 square feet to Genera’s existing facility and will house more than 60 robotic thermoforming machines, a fleet of autonomously guided vehicles, and automated packaging lines. Genera grows and makes all its products in the U.S., offering supply chain transparency for brand owners, income streams for landowners and farmers, and domestic job creation. This expansion, with initial capacity online in Q1 2024, will create more than 230 local jobs in East Tennessee upon completion.

“Genera has grown to become the largest domestic manufacturer of circular, compostable packaging solutions and this expansion will enable us to further scale and bring our sustainable packaging solutions to more brands and consumers,” said Ben Mascarello, Chief Executive Officer. “As our capacity increases, we look forward to expanding our work with brand owners, farmers and landowners and continuing to lead the transition to a biobased economy.”

The expansion of Genera’s Sustainable Biomaterials Campus is a massive project that will be undertaken in partnership with Motus, Kiewit and its subsidiary TIC-The Industrial Company. The engineering, procurement and construction of the expansion will be completed by TIC and the state-of-the-art automated robotic thermoforming machines will be supplied by Motus.

“With a strong business climate, highly skilled workforce and sound infrastructure system statewide, Tennessee is poised to support new and existing business growth,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. “I thank Genera for creating hundreds of new jobs for families across rural East Tennessee and look forward to the positive impact this project will have on the Monroe County community.”

Founded as a spin out from the University of Tennessee in 2008, Genera has grown to become North America’s largest vertically integrated manufacturer of sustainable packaging and biomaterials solutions for food and consumer products, retail, and food service. Genera’s products are made from locally grown regenerative grasses, offering consumers sustainable alternatives to plastics with direct benefits to local farms and communities and a significantly lower carbon impact.

Genera is headquartered in Vonore, with an innovation center in Houston, TX.

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