Welspun to add 200 jobs at Little Rock facility

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 196 views 

Welspun continues to grow its large manufacturing operation in Little Rock, with company and state officials announced Thursday (Feb. 23) a $100 million expansion that will add 200 jobs.

Based in India, international pipe manufacturer Welspun Corp. said it plans to use locate in Little Rock the company’s first large-diameter pipe manufacturing location in North America. Pipe produced by Welspun is primarily used in the gas and oil industry, with some of the company’s products used to support one of the deepest pipeline systems in the Gulf of Mexico.

With this expansion, Welspun will bring total overall investment to $280 million since opening in April 2009, with employment possibly moving past 700 with this newest expansion. The company in May 2010 announced a $30 million expansion with the expectation of 230 new jobs.

“We are extremely delighted at the performance of our Little Rock facility, which has cemented the firm’s global reach in servicing some of the largest oil and gas companies in the world,” noted B.K. Goenka, chairman of Welspun, during a press conference held at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We believe that this new investment will pave the way for Welspun to continue on its path of becoming one of the most respected line-pipe companies in the world and we are thankful to the City of Little Rock for the support that they have extended in fulfilling our dream.”

Welspun plans to expand their product line of steel pipes to include the production of 6-inch to 20-inch ERW steel pipes. The new manufacturing lines will be located in a second building on 44 acres purchased by the company. Located on 740 acres adjacent to the Port of Little Rock, Welspun’s modern spiral pipe and coating facility has an annual production capacity of more than 350,000 tons of pipe.

“Welspun invested in Arkansas when the national economy was in bad shape,” Gov. Mike Beebe noted in a statement. “That faith in our workforce and our business community has paid off for both Welspun and Little Rock, and today they are reinforcing their confidence in us with another significant investment in Arkansas.”

Welspun will receive $4.5 million from the state for site preparation and building and infrastructure development, according to this report from Roby Brock at Talk Business. It will also qualify for $300,000 in training reimbursement from the state and a variety of potential payroll tax rebates and construction material tax breaks. The city of Little Rock will contribute $500,000 to the expansion project from its newly enacted sales tax hike.

Rajesh Chokhani, a vice-president for Welspun, told Brock that employees laid off by Welspun due to President Obama’s delay of the Keystone Pipeline project, a Canada-to-Texas pipeline project, could benefit from this expansion. He said those employees would be prime candidates for the new jobs. At the press conference, he singled out a representative from the Canadian consulate who was in attendance.