Look At the Numbers,
Then Look Around
Off the Beaten
Path in Mississippi
The Southeast's emergence as an automotive industry stronghold is evident in the towns where major plants have opened in recent years, such as Canton, Miss., Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Smyrna, Tenn. But it increasingly is evident, too, off the beaten path. Cleveland, Miss., for instance, is the location of a manufacturing facility to be operated by Faurecia, a French supplier of automotive seating and interior systems and other parts. The $12-million investment will create 250 jobs by the end of 2006 in the Delta town 20 miles (32 km.) east of the Mississippi River. Faurecia will renovate an existing building in the Charles W. Dean Industrial Park; production is slated to begin in mid-2005.
Similarly, SportRack Automotive, based in Sterling Heights, Mich., chose rural Greenwood, Miss., as the location for a plant in which to manufacture roof racks for Nissan vehicles. The facility will employ about 60 people when production gets under way in early 2005.
Such communities are likely to benefit from additional investment as federal work force training funds -- $2.48 million worth -- reach Mississippi's junior colleges in the weeks and months ahead. The Dept. of Labor funds will benefit the Mississippi Automotive Training and Skills Enhancement Program that is designed to train workers for Nissan and its suppliers.
One of the most significant projects to land in the Magnolia State in recent months is Trex Co.'s third manufacturing plant, now under construction in Olive Branch, Miss., on the outskirts of Memphis, Tenn. The $50-million first phase of the project will see construction of a 250,000-sq.-ft. (23,225-sq.-m.) plant that will employ about 100 workers. Trex makes wood-polymer lumber for rail and decking applications.
"The Olive Branch site offers many of the attributes we have been seeking -- an ideal transportation center, an excellent local work force and favorable access to raw materials," noted Robert Matheny, president, at the site selection announcement in December 2003. "The new plant will supplement our existing operations in Winchester, Va., and Fernley, Nev., by helping us serve markets in the South and Midwest. It will also help us control the various components of our costs, including raw materials. We plan to build the new facility out gradually, in step with our marketing plan, and expect it to grow substantially over time."
Demand for Trex's products has increased 30 percent annually for the last five years.
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