Category Archives: Manufacturing

International Paper Keeps Going On Strong in Columbus

International Paper Keeps Going On Strong in Columbus

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

David Phillips, Columbus Mill manager for International Paper – Photo by Mary Pollitz

Columbus Mill Manager David Phillips recently spoke to the Rotarians at Lion Hills Center in Columbus about his facility, which was acquired by International Paper a couple of years ago, and the company’s plans for the future. They have begun a new initiative called “IP Way Forward,” having already invested $135,000 within the local community as a way of giving back to the good people of Columbus. Their initiative calls for the company to focus on “[I]nvesting in people, sustaining forests, improving the planet, innovative products and inspiring performance.” This includes helping out the less fortunate by assisting with education, hunger, and medical programs.

Kellum Kim, mill communications manager said that they wish to continue the good works done by Weyerhauser, the prior owners of the mill, with regards to the community in Lowndes County: “People that know Weyerhaeuser, know that they did a lot of great things in the community, they just did more behind the scenes,” Kim said. “What we are really trying to change is getting more hands-on, (and) get more of our team members involved.”

“Part of the IP Way Forward is to provide value for stakeholders,” Phillips said. “One of our stakeholders is the community and so we want to make sure we are providing value for the community that our employees live in.”

Kim added: “It’s all about investing in our communities and being a good steward of our communities and what we can do to make our community a better place for everyone in Lowndes County.”

The mill currently has about 325 full-time employees, including thirty who were brought on board this year. They also contract up to a hundred workers per day, and their average pay rate is about $28/hr. Philips noted that the mill is largely self-sustaining, as they generate all of their own power by harnessing the steam generated by burning tree bark that might not otherwise be useful; they also use the surrounding 65-acre marsh to treat their wastewater.

International Paper and their Columbus Mill are giving back to their local community while making products that we use every day — and THAT’S Good for Business!

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Joe Max Higgins on Bringing Industry to Starkville

Joe Max Higgins on Bringing Industry to Starkville

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of the Dispatch

GTR LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins recently met with the Starkville board of aldermen, Oktibbeha County board of supervisors and Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority to talk about the issue of trust. He feels that economic development depends on it.

Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins and SV Industrial Park — Photo by Alex Holloway, Dispatch staff

From his perspective, he needs to know that he and the LINK can trust that they know what the area’s county and local officials expect, so as to make sure that proposals for economic investment will get heard and acted upon. He stated that, in Lowndes and Clay counties, he has a pretty good grasp on that; for Oktibbeha, not so much: “I do (know) in the other places,” Higgins said. “I don’t have that comfort here. . .there’s some of you that I don’t know how you’re going to vote and it’s scary,” he added.

On the flip side, Higgins stated that local leaders will need to know that they can trust the LINK to keep the cities’ and counties’ best interests in mind when bringing them new prospects and proposals: “We don’t go after and heavily incentivize deals that don’t pay more than our county averages,” Higgins said. “You can’t make your place be a better place by going after jobs. You need to go after good jobs.”

District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard spoke on the importance of such trust: “We’ve just got to trust Joe Max and his team. To this point, they’ve been good about keeping us in the loop,” Howard said. “But as things speed up, we’re not going to be able to call everybody together every time. He’s going to have to be comfortable that we trust him enough to say, ‘Joe Max is not going to bring us a bad deal.'”

 

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Columbus Superfund Site Cleanup Well Under Way

Columbus Superfund Site Cleanup Well Under Way

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

EPA Region 4 Director Franklin Hill – Photo by Mary Pollitz

The EPA recently brought together local officials at each of ten Superfund cleanup sites across the country in order to recognize the solid progress on each of them, and the Kerr-McGee site here in the Memphis Town area of Columbus was one of them. In part, they celebrated the fact many of the 42 officially-recognized recommendations from a list put together last year were things that the KMG cleanup crew had been doing for as long as seven years already: “We’re already on the cusp of that . . . We’re already taking early actions in this community,” said EPA Region 4 Superfund Director Franklin Hill.

Kerr-McGee once had a wood treatment plant here that was in operation from about 1928 to 2003; the resulting waste product, creosote, contaminated the site and local grounds, making it one of the 1,800 Superfund sites in the US, and one of the top 30 “priority” SF sites which are being given special attention and expedited funding.

Hill went on to say, “We did that collectively … and this community [of Columbus] was at the forefront of it. This community are the people who held us to task. … Even though we slipped schedules from time to time, they would remind us when we were slipping schedules.”

“We no longer want to clean up the site and walk away from it and leave it and it becomes just an open field,” Hill said. “We’d like to see that property return to the tax rolls. We’d like to see that property make a contribution to the local municipality and government, and we’d also like to see the community realize a benefit from their community being revitalized from years of the plight that’s been associated with the site that’s basically (been) dormant in this community since 2003.”

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Lowndes County Port to Receive ~$450K Port Expansion Grant

Lowndes County Port to Receive $450K Port Expansion Grant

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Will Sanders

The Mississippi Department of Transportation recently authorized a grant worth roughly $476,317, to be used to add a 250-foot crane rail extension to the Lowndes County Port in order to increase its capacity.

“We’re very fortunate that MDOT allows this grant every year,” said Will Sanders, director for the Port Authority. “Without these types of funds, we would not be able to continue these economic development projects every year.” He went on to say that the port will initially increase its current tonnage by at least 20 percent, and that they may eventually double the current amount.

SDI General Manager Madhu Ranade remarked that “It will improve the barge unloading capabilities,” Ranade said. “So we can get our raw materials faster to the plant. With the increased capacity, we may consider bringing in other materials there as well. It is a benefit to us, our key raw materials come in through that part of the port. Just having that extra crane would make the unloading go a lot faster and smoother. It’s a good situation for the port as well as for us.”

“These improvements will make the Lowndes County Port more efficient and allow for increased through-put,” said Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins in a prepared statement. “The more product moved on the Tenn-Tom, the stronger the waterway becomes as an asset for our region.”

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Yokohama Going Strong as it Approaches its Third Year in West Point

Yokohama Going Strong as it Approaches its Third Year in West Point

WEST POINT, MS – Courtesy of the Mississippi Business Journal

The front entrance of the Yokohama Tire plant in West Point. (credit: The MS Business Journal)

About three years back, Yokohama Tire Corp. president Hikomitsu Noji had been looking at sites in nearly every state of the union to find the perfect location for their first “built from scratch” U.S. Facility. Once he got a good look at West Point, he decided that this was the place for his $300 million baby. The city and county, at the time, was still suffering the long-term aftereffects of the 2007 closing of the Bryan Foods plant, which eliminated over 1,200 jobs. Fast forward to today, and the plant employs 650 full-time employees – they had originally anticipated 500 – and they hope to add nearly triple that in the future.

“It’s been all positive and we couldn’t be more pleased with having Yokohama here,” said West Point mayor Robbie Robinson. “There’s always hiccups with any new venture and there have been some. When they chose to build the facility here, it was like we hit the lottery. . .West Point and Clay County are very happy.”

Joe Max Higgins, GTR LINK CEO and vocal  promoter of entrepreneurship in the GTR, took Noji and others on a helicopter ride that included the ruins of the old Bryan plant: “The Yokohama president told me ‘I want to see Sara Lee’ and we loaded up in the helicopter we’d rented for the day and took three or four passes over the demolished site”, said Higgins. “After the fourth pass, the man just looked at me and nodded without a word. There was an emotional connection. . . I knew at that moment that we’d landed Yokohama.”

Dan Funkhouser, Yokohama’s vice-president of commercial sales noted that the addition of the West Point plant is critical to the company’s continued growth in North America: “The commercial tire market is very strong and growing,” he said. “Both the replacement and OEM tire markets are expanding. This fits in perfectly with the Mississippi plant, which will increase our capabilities to service our OEM and replacement partners as they grow.”

Higgins proudly stated,“I think West Point and Clay County have turned the corner.”

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Steel Dynamics to Increase Steel Production at Columbus Location

Steel Dynamics to Increase Steel Production at Columbus Location

 

 

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of WTVA

The GTR LINK recently announced Steel Dynamics’ plans to invest $200 million into its flat roll steel plant here in Columbus. They anticipate that the expansion will add as many as 45 jobs to the plant over the next three years as the changes are phased in.

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New Tariffs May Pose Problem for Steel Dynamics

New Tariffs May Pose Problem for Steel Dynamics

COLUMBUS — Courtesy of The Dispatch

The Trump Administration recently announced that its 25% tariffs on steel – which had exempted the EU, Canada, and Mexico – will now be imposed unilaterally, triggering Mexico to retaliate in kind. Some are concerned that this could be bad news for Golden Triangle businesses, such as Steel Dynamics.

Mark Millet, CEO of SDI

During a January 2018 conference call, SDI President and CEO Mark Millett pointed out the Columbus flat-roll steel plant’s stellar role in boosting the company’s profits to record highs: “We, I think, shipped about 220,000 tons of automotive (steel) from Columbus just last year, which is a massive increase,” Millett told investors. “And we’re on platforms to increase that to about 400,000 tons over the next 18 months …We continue to gain market share, especially at the Columbus flat roll division with our focus on automotive direct sales. We also benefit there from a cost effective access into Mexico.”

Much of the local plant’s steel is exported to Mexican auto manufacturing plants. They imported roughly 3.7 metric tons of flat roll steel, according to the International Trade Assn.; this number made up about 2/3 of Mexico’s total steel imports that year.

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Yokohama Reports Significant Job Growth at West Point Facility

Yokohama Reports Significant Job Growth at West Point Facility

Stacey Perusse, senior human resources manager for Yokohama Tire Corporation’s West Point plant (Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff)

WEST POINT – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Yokohama Tire Corporation’s West Point plant opened in fall 2015. They have reported that they are “continually” hiring new employees, bringing the current total to over 650, despite having been here for only about three years. Senior Human Resources Manager Stacey Perussespoke to the Rotary Club recently: “About a year ago, we were right around 500 (employees),” she said. “We actually had a job fair here in Starkville last August and we had over 700 people come.” She reports that they hire about fifteen new people every Monday, and that they’re always looking for new talent; they start employees at $14.50/hr, with semiannual pay raises for the first six years.

Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins said, “We’re pleased with Yokohama’s progress thus far,” Higgins said. “They have already exceeded all of their obligations for phase one, including employing more than 500 people and investing more than $300 million.”

Please click here for the full article.

 

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Tronox’ Flagship Plant Celebrates 60th Anniversary

Tronox’ Flagship Plant Celebrates 60th Anniversary

HAMILTON, MS – Courtesy of the Monroe Journal

Tronox (formerly Kerr-McGee) recently noted its 60th anniversary with a gala celebration at its main titanium dioxide plant in Hamilton, bringing together many of its 427 employees, 150 contractors, retirees, local dignitaries, and company leaders.

“In many ways, our company was sort of born in Oklahoma City with the Kerr-McGee legacy. In truth, the heart of our company is here in Hamilton, and it’s really ironic and sweet to think about how full-circle our company has come,” said Tronox President and Chief Executive Officer Jeffry Quinn. He went on to state his confidence in the company’s continued great success, saying that  “The history here is very rich. The pride that’s been accomplished is real, and the excitement about the future is clearly discernable.”

“Without you, we wouldn’t be able to celebrate a 60th anniversary in Hamilton,” said Tronox Chief Operating Officer Jean-Francois Turgeon. “You have created that presence that’s leading today. Without the past and without the effort of the past, we wouldn’t be here in the present. It’s obviously our job as leaders is to create the future for Hamilton.”

Please click here for the full article.

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Dept of Commerce Invests $1.8 Million in Golden Triangle’s Future

Dept of Commerce Invests $1.8 Million in Golden Triangle’s Future

WASHINGTON, D.C. – From a Press Release Courtesy of the US Economic Development Association

Thad Cochran Research Park in Starkville – courtesy photo

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced yesterday that the Department’s Economic Development Administration is awarding a $1.8 million grant to the MSU Research & Technology Corporation of Starkville to help build the new Analytical Center for Advanced Microscopy and Microanalysis will be located at the Thad Cochran Research, Technology, and Economic Development Park.

“This project is the product of local leaders’ efforts to generate greater economic opportunities in Mississippi,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The new Analytical Center for Advanced Microscopy and Microanalysis will boost the state’s competitiveness by providing regional businesses with the support they need to grow while simultaneously delivering the critical workforce training necessary to help them thrive.”

The new facility will serve as an industrial resource by providing the instruments, equipment, and expertise businesses need to verify product integrity, support manufacturing, ensure quality control, and contribute to product development.

Please click here for the full press release.

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