By Steve Short
Former employees of the Hobbs Bonded Fibers manufacturing plant in Trenton will receive help making the transition to new employment opportunities, Gibson County Commissioners were told May 13.
Kingsley Brock, county director of Economic Development, gave an update to commissioners about the Hobbs plant and several other local industries.
Hobbs plant – The Hobbs Bonded Fibers plant is closing in Trenton, Brock said.
“This will be a loss of 68 jobs,” said Brock. “We hate to see that. They will consolidate with a plant in Waco, Texas.”
Brock said, beginning May 14, a Rapid Response team would meet with employees at Hobbs.
“There will be a series of activities that will happen over the next week or so, where this team will talk to employees about how to access the state’s data base for future jobs, how to access the unemployment benefits, what to do about their health insurance and a number of other things,” said Brock. “So there’s a team that’s going to be meeting with those folks to help them through this transition as best as possible.”
Dyer Industrial Park – Brock said that he is working with Com. Nathan Reed to improve signage at the Dyer Industrial Park. Brock, Reed and the Dyer Industrial Development Board have applied to TVA for an Invest prep grant to put new signage up at the Park.
“We submitted an application in April,” said Brock. “We haven’t gotten the grant approved yet, but the next step is to get a site visit from TVA and KPMG, the consulting firm that runs the program for TVA.
“We are going to get a site visit on June 19,” Brock said. “They will come and look at the Dyer and our site and the project, which will be about a $30,000 project, half funded by TVA and half by the Dyer Industrial Development Board. It will put new signs up at our park and up our game there at that park and make it a little more visible. They’ll put some signs out on Highway 45, directing traffic to the park.
“So I’m excited about that,” said Brock. “It’s a small project, but I’m excited about getting the TVA guys and the KPMG consulting firm to Dyer, to look at the park, and to give us additional recommendations about what we can do to move that site and the city of Dyer forward.”
Tyson facilities progressing – The Tyson Foods facilities continue to be under construction. “All three components – the hatchery, the plant and the feed mill – are under construction, and dirt is flying,” said Brock. “The first pullet house in Bradford is under roof. The framing of the hatchery is started at the city park site. If you tried to drive up McKnight Road along the western edge of the (Industrial Park) property, Humboldt Utilities is now doing a massive sewer expansion. There is lots of activity as they run the sewer up to the plant. So that’s a big step in that project.”
Milan projects – The new Global Track manufacturing plant, located in the former Tower Automotive plant in Milan continues to progress, Brock said.
Keith Pope, the plant manager, was in China recently inspecting the new equipment that the manufacturer in China has made for the Milan facility, said Brock.
“Mr. Pope went to look at the equipment to make sure it is up to standard,” Brock said. “Assuming it is all good, they will ship that equipment over here, get it installed in the next couple of months, and start to make some rubber tracks out of that facility in Milan.
“Once they start making tracks, they will send those to some of the big vendors, like Caterpillar and John Deere, to have them test the tracks to make sure that the quality is up to standard. Assuming that the quality is up to standard, they’ll start to get some of those orders from the bigger companies and start to ship some of their China production to the Milan facility. I’m excited that we’re finally getting that project off the ground.”
Also in Milan, Appalachian Rail Car Services is operating on the (Global Track Warehouse) doing railcar repair.
“They have about 15 folks out there,” said Brock. “We had a little hiccup with the West Tennessee Railroad, but we were able to resolve that, and they’re going to stay in Milan. Seems like they’re going to be there for a while.”
Brock also gave a few details about an unnamed industry in the Milan area that has been given a temporary name, “Project Retire.”
“I couldn’t tell you anything about that, other than the real estate deal has closed,” Brock told commissioners. “Looks like we’re going to get that project. I can’t tell you who it is yet, but at the next (county commission) meeting, I will be announcing that project to you. Hopefully we’re going to be having a public announcement sooner than our next meeting in two months. I’m excited about that project. There will be about 52 or so jobs and an $8.5 million investment, hopefully growing to about 65 or 75 jobs, pretty good paying jobs, too. It’s a good company.”
Brock said he continues working with Hargett Materials in Milan on a Delta regional authority rail grant. He hoped to send the initial application in the week of May 13.
Humboldt retail complex – Brock described plans for a retail, commercial development at the south county Industrial Park in Humboldt. The complex would be along the retail frontage beside and behind Wall Street Grill, he said.
“We’re working on a plan, which will require the (county commission’s) approval, once I get everything lined up to bring it to you,” he told commissioners. “We’re trying to work out a development that would include a hotel, a restaurant or restaurants possibly, and retail center. Think about the Milan Hampton Inn, Perkins restaurant and the little retail development there in Milan (on Hwy. 45 in south Milan). That would be Phase 1. It wouldn’t necessarily be those components, but something similar to that would be a Phase 1 of the project.
“Phase 2 could possibly be a second hotel or grocery store, or possibly some apartments,” Mr. Brock said. “There’s a lot of work around this. I’m doing some financial modeling and trying to put this together. There’s sales tax that would be generated. There’s property tax that would be generated. There’s the sale of land that could be generated. I’m trying to analyze all of these things and put them together with some help from some folks, so I can come to you in the future and present this plan.
“It’s gaining some traction and some interest,” he added. “I think we may have a pretty cool development going on. (County Attorney) Floyd Flippin is involved with it and would be representing co-counsel for the Humboldt Industrial Development Board.
“A lot of things are going on; I’m really excited about them,” Brock told commissioners. “It takes time, as you know, for these things to come to pass and be pulled together, but I think we’ve got a lot of great things going on in Gibson County.”