Dow Chemical (DOW) on Wednesday opened a new research and development facility in Collegeville, Penn., with the aim of coming up with better scientific research materials and creating high-paying jobs.
In an exclusive interview with FOX Business Network's Liz Claman, Dow Chemical Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris discussed the plant and the future of the company.
“We’ve had a vision to tap into the human capitol of the universities in this part of the country,” said Liveris, who cut the ribbon Wednesday. “This is about growth in science.”
The research and development facility currently employs 800 scientists in about 800,000 square feet of laboratories.
The building has the potential to employ up to 1,300, but Liveris told FBN he has to see some growth first.
“The economy, clearly the U.S. economy, but the global economy needs to be back where it was,” he said, “It’s not there yet. It’s a slower recovery than all of us would like.”
There has been a growing interest in the chemical sector among activist investors. Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital, for example, has invested in Dow Chemical competitor Air Products (APD). Meanwhile, reports have been circulating that Nelson Peltz is considering taking a stake in Dupont (DP).
In terms of attracting investors, Liveris said, "Shareholders have to have a return or else they put their money somewhere else. A facility like this is for medium- to long-term returns,” though in today's market, immediate returns are just as important, something Dow is actively taking steps to improve by shedding non-core assets like chlorine derivatives and its epoxy business.
With dividends at 3.6%, Liveris believes the company is on track to give investors the returns they want, and customers the “smarter” products they need. As earnings grow, dividends will grow, he added.