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Industry start-ups, expansions prolific in May: AIDC lists several major projects.

MAY WAS A BIG MONTH for new and expanded plant announcements in Arkansas.

A listing compiled by the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission showed 12 projects in May, including four new start-ups.

In April, five new plants and three plant expansions were announced. The AIDC was to release its June list in mid-July, but as of late June there were two announcements of new projects.

Topping all new plants was word in May that American Fiber Industries LLC would make a $15 million investment in a plant bringing 35 jobs to Little Rock. American Fiber Industries produces polypropylene-based plastic fiber products.

Also in May, Dixie Foods Co. announced a $13 million investment in Forrest City that will result in 200 jobs. Dixie Foods handles meat processing and packaging.

In April, Delta Plastics Inc., maker of plastic jars, announced a $3 million investment in a new plant in Hot Springs. The plant is expected to employ 70.

And in the same month, Capital-Mercury Shirt Corp. said it would open a plant in Des Arc that would bring 300 new jobs to the economically ravaged area.

The announcements for April and May show high capital investment figures, according to Del Boyette, Industrial Development director for the AIDC.

"We've seen similar figures for the entire year," he says. "Manufacturers are making sizable investments to automate and upgrade their facilities.

"This trend is indicative of what is happening all across the country. Manufacturers in general are trying to make their companies more globally competitive by using the most modern technology in their processes."

The following are some notes on new and expanded plants in the state:

Freezer Expansion

Carmer Freezers, based in Carthage, Mo., announced in June that it would expand its Springdale plant by 98,000 SF. The company will invest $6 million in the project, which includes acquiring 9.17 acres of land from the city of Springdale.

Barbie Doll Boxes

Union Camp, a manufacturer of packaging for consumer products including Mattel's Barbie doll, is investing $5.9 million in a six-color printing press, a building expansion and a sheeter for its Conway location.

The 6,500 SF plant expansion will provide space for a packaging design center and a sheeter.

Union Camp, based in Wayne, N.J., is a Fortune 500 company. More than half of the funding for the Conway project will pay for a state-of-the-art, German-made press.

Union Camp's Conway facility employs more than 230 people and is the only litho-laminated packaging plant in the company's 30-plant container division.

The Cat's Meow

One of the more unique industrial start-ups was Cat Claws Inc. in Morrilton.

The maker of corrugated paperboard for cat-scratching posts announced in April a new facility in Conway County that will employ 35.

On Display in Van Buren

Arkansas Woodworkers Inc., a manufacturer of wood and glass display cases for retail outlets, announced in April its plans to open a new plant in Van Buren at the Crawford County Industrial Park.

The total announced investment is $1.2 million. Construction has begun on a 40,000-SF facility on a 10-acre tract in the industrial park.

The company expects to employ nearly 50 people when it is in full production.

Hot Springs Welcomes Delta

Delta Plastics Inc. held a ground-breaking ceremony on April 2 for its new plastic injection molding facility in Mid-America Park at Hot Springs.

The company manufactures plastic containers for cosmetic and hair-care products. The $3 million plant will begin operations soon and employ 70 people in three years.

High-Tech Approach

American Fiber Industries LLC says it will specialize in the high-tech production of various plastic fiber products at its new $15 million plant in Little Rock, which will serve as the new corporation's international production headquarters.

American Fiber Industries was to begin operations in Little Rock last month, even before its main production facility is completed at the Port of Little Rock. The company is leasing space in temporary production facilities.

Within 18 months, the company plans to move production to a permanent facility at the port. AFI has taken an option on 12 acres in the port, with a right of first refusal on an additional 24 adjacent acres.

The corporation is planning construction of an 80,000-SF facility.

AFI will employ 35 persons during the pilot phase of the fiber operation. Planned expansion of the production capacity will bring the company's total employment to more than 250 within a few years. AFI is planning a total capital investment of more than $15 million.

The company has been involved in extensive research and development since 1989 to find innovative applications for polypropylene homopolymer resins. Polypropylene is a petroleum-based raw material used in the manufacture of such common goods as carpet and plastic beverage bottles.

AFI has developed an innovative new process to create fiber tow from polypropylene, opening a potential international market for the sale of the fiber material.
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Title Annotation:Industry Report Supplement; May, 1993; Arkansas Commission on Industrial Development
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jul 5, 1993
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