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American Railcar Inc. rolls on.

American Railcar Inc. spent more than $10 million to open its 135,000-SF covered hopper railcar manufacturing plant at Paragould in July 1995. Three years later the company is investing another $22 million in the region.

"We're proud to have American Railcar," says Joe Higgins, director of the Paragould Chamber of Commerce. "They're evidently doing well and glad to be in Greene County because they' re investing a lot of money here."

American, based at St. Charles, Mo., is constructing a $12 million, 135,000-SF paint and lining facility behind its existing plant at 901 Jones Road in Paragould. A $20 million tank car manufacturing facility is being built 12 miles northeast of there in Marmaduke.

About 300 of American's 1,100 nationwide employees work at the Paragould plant. The expansions will add as many as 150 jobs in Paragould and 350 in Marmaduke over the next year.

"In two or three years, we'll also add a paint and lining facility in Marmaduke," says Dean Inman, American's human resources director. "These expansions will make both operations more efficient and effective for us. It's better to have one group of people at one location responsible for a product from start to finish."

Covered hopper cars are used to ship commodities, minerals and plastic pellets. Tank cars carry liquid. Adding painting and lining facilities at the Paragould and Marmaduke sites will allow American to roll its cars across its grounds rather than across the country to be completed.

Higgins says economic modeling studies by his office show American's new paint and lining facility will have an economic impact of more than $1 million per year on Paragould alone. Effects across northeast Arkansas are farther reaching.

"American has been phenomenal for the local economy, the job creating they've done," Higgins says, "and there have been several other spinoff developments because of them. They've got a component plant at Kennett, Mo., and a custom steel plant there they've made to supply the Paragould plant.

"If you draw a 60-mile radius around Paragould, that's the area they have affected."

American's plans eventually include adding a small rolling mill that will employ up to 10 additional workers on the company's 35-acre site in Paragould.

Jack Pipkin, director of American's Paragould operation, says the secret to his company's success in northeast Arkansas has been picking the right region for development.

"The thing that's made us the most successful is the work ethic of the area, and also the way the community officials work with us as well as they have," Pipkin says. "It's been a great situation for everyone."
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Title Annotation:facility investments in Paragould, Arkansas
Author:Wood, Jeffrey
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Sep 28, 1998
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