A company that makes conveyors for loading and unloading trucks will invest $12.5 million and add 110 jobs to its Jonesboro location, company and state officials announced Wednesday (March 23).
Gov. Asa Hutchinson and officials with FMH Conveyors made the announcement during a press conference at the Arkansas State University Convocation Center. The company, based in North Atlanta, Ga., opened its facility on Flint Street in Jonesboro in the mid-1980’s with 60 employees.
The company will move into a 195,000 square foot facility at the corner of Barnhill Road and Highland Drive later this year, company president Kurt Huelsman said. Huelsman said the decision to expand in Jonesboro was in part made because of a decision to consolidate operations from three locations in the United States to one. Now, the company has facilities in Jonesboro, Suwanee, Georgia and Hampton, Va.
“We had to decide which one,” Huelsman said, citing Jonesboro’s workforce and infrastructure as reasons for the move. “There was no bad decision.”
Huelsman said the company will look for people to fill the jobs, which include assembly operators to office staff.
Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce president Mark Young said the workforce issue has been important around the state.
“Workforce, it is key,” Young said, noting support from Hutchinson and state lawmakers on the issue. “It is helpful on the recruiting and retention of employees.”
The project will also receive state and local incentives. Young said the Jonesboro Economic Development Commission is providing $50,000 for infrastructure and site prep improvements for the project. The project will receive $1 million from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund to help with infrastructure and equipment purchases as well as be eligible for two other programs.
One program, called Create Rebate, allows for a cash rebate equal to 3.9% of payroll for the new jobs for 10 years; while the second program, the tax back program, will give state and local sales tax refunds on building materials, taxable machinery and other equipment, said Scott Hardin, a spokesman with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Huelsman said the incentives played a significant role in the decision but noted the infrastructure and location in the middle of the country were key factors as well.
Hutchinson said he began working on the project last year after AEDC Director Mike Preston asked him for support.
“They saw an opportunity in Jonesboro. … What you see in this room today is Jonesboro’s commitment,” Hutchinson said, noting the recent designation of I-555 from U.S. 63 provides a “boost for economic development.”
Dirt work will begin next week, weather permitting, with construction complete by fall 2016, Huelsman said.