story from Talk Business, a content partner with The City Wire
The former Nordex USA wind turbine factory in Jonesboro has been sold to a subsidiary of Trinity Industries, a Dallas-based firm that will re-open the closed plant as a railcar manufacturer creating up to 350 jobs.
The company’s subsidiary, TrinityRail Maintenance Services Inc., will provide railcar maintenance and services in the operation.
“We welcome TrinityRail Maintenance Services to Jonesboro, and we are excited for the significant investment the company is making in Northeast Arkansas,” Gov. Mike Beebe said. “This shows again that when Arkansas cities have the right workforce and facilities, new companies will continue to bring good-paying jobs here.”
“Jonesboro’s reputation as a manufacturing hub continues to grow with TrinityRail Maintenance Service’s decision to locate its new facility here,” said Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin. “We appreciate the company’s confidence in our workforce and look forward to TrinityRail’s success in Jonesboro.”
“The decision of TrinityRail Maintenance Services to locate in Jonesboro is anticipated to create hundreds of new jobs and will have a substantial impact on the area’s economy for years to come,” Mark Young, president and CEO of the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “Thanks to TrinityRail Maintenance Services for making the decision to invest in Jonesboro, Craighead County and our citizens.”
Count pent-up demand for Trinity’s expansion in Jonesboro. In its annual earnings release, Trinity noted that it had received orders for 7,125 new railcars during its fourth quarter and that it had a backlog of 39,895 units worth nearly $5 billion in sales.
Trinity is a publicly-traded, diversified conglomerate that manufactures railcars, including tank cars, hoppers, and gondolas to transport chemicals, coal, and other materials. It also makes construction products, barges, energy equipment, and offers railcar fleet management services.
Trinity posted net income of $226.4 million on revenue of $1.5 billion in the first quarter of 2014. For the full year in 2013, Trinity showed profits of $375.5 million on revenue of $4.4 billion.
The company’s location in Northeast Arkansas positions the region as a major manufacturing hub for railcars. American Railcar Industries, headquartered in St. Charles, Missouri, has railcar manufacturing facilities in Paragould and Marmaduke.
The Jonesboro deal helps close the door on Nordex’s short presence in Arkansas. Nordex came to the state in 2009 amid great fanfare to make “nacelles” used for large wind turbines. Nacelles house the engine and other key turbine components and sit high atop a wind turbine tower.
The $40 million production facility once promised to employ 750 workers, but “uncertainty and instability” in the U.S. wind energy market were cited by company leaders as reasons to close the factory in July 2013.
State officials say Nordex has repaid all of the nearly $2.5 million it owed in clawback provisions to Arkansas for incentives it earned as part of its deal.
According to city leaders, Nordex will also pay off the debt owed on local loans and bonds that were issued for the $40 million facility as part of its investment in Jonesboro.