With its central location, North Rhine-Westphalia is one of the leading chemical regions in Europe. More than 450 chemical companies are represented here with 94,000 employees and annual sales of around 43 billion euros – about one third of total German sales. Orion Engineered Carbons has also been active in the Rhineland region since 1932 and produces 160,000 tons of carbon black annually at its plant in Kalscheuren (Cologne). The specialty carbon blacks are used in plastics, paints and varnishes, inks and toners, as well as the tire industry. The Luxembourg-based chemical producer operates 14 production sites worldwide and employs more than 1,460 people. Now the 400-strong location in Cologne is to be expanded. In doing so, Orion is reacting to the constantly growing market for water-borne and solvent coatings and strengthening its specialization. "The capacity expansion in Cologne is a further step in the rapid realignment of Orion's portfolio towards higher-grade carbon blacks for specialty and technical rubber applications," says Corning Painter, CEO of Orion.