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Keeping Church & Dwight may have longer-term benefits for N.J.

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The success story of keeping Church & Dwight in New Jersey was officially written this week, as state officials met with executives at the company's new Ewing headquarters. But the benefits of the manufacturer's decision to stay may be just beginning.

About 20 percent of the company's new 250,000-square-foot facility is open space, "so it's built for growth in the future," said Matthew Farrell, Church & Dwight's chief financial officer. And the company hasn't shied away from expansion in recent years: Of the eight brands that account for most of its profits, all but Arm & Hammer have been acquired since 2000, he said.

That means any future growth by the company could translate into growth at its corporate offices and its research and development facilities, which also are remaining here.

"It is an acquisitive company," Farrell said. "To the extent that we acquire businesses, we would add people in New Jersey in R&D or in marketing, for example."

The company, which moved from offices in Princeton, dedicated its new headquarters on Thursday at a ceremony with Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. The office currently houses 550 of the roughly 1,000 employees who are staying in New Jersey, due largely to outreach by state economic development officials and nearly $14 million in incentives. Church & Dwight, which also owns brands like OxiClean, Orajel and Trojan condoms, also is keeping its R&D hub in Princeton and major manufacturing facility in Lakewood.

The company has been in growth mode while constructing the $70 million headquarters in Ewing, announcing in August that it had acquired the Vancouver, Wash.-based vitamin maker Avid Health Inc. for $650 million. Farrell said while the manufacturing for the brand is done on the West Coast, any "increase in the R&D complement" would take place in New Jersey.

He also said the Church & Dwight has been adding capacity at its laundry detergent manufacturing plant in York, Pa., which the company moved from North Brunswick in 2010 because "New Jersey had been an unfriendly state for business." And it turned out that not long after that, the company had another decision to make.

"It came time to start evaluating corporate headquarters. And we were bursting at the seams in Princeton," Farrell said. He later added, "Since we had already moved our detergent plant to Pennsylvania, we naturally looked in Pennsylvania."

But he said the Chris Christie administration stepped in and convinced the manufacturer to stay, in a story that's been well chronicled since it made the decision in 2011.

Keeping the operation in New Jersey has also effectively recruited a new member to Guadagno's economic development team, which includes the Business Action Center, the state's clearinghouse for business resources. Thomas Mulkeen, Church & Dwight's vice president of tax, said the company has made itself available to partner with the agency and be an advocate for other firms that may be in a similar situation.

"We're happy to tell our story to anybody who's interested in coming to New Jersey," Mulkeen said. "We'd love to tell them the story of why New Jersey is a great place to do business."

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