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VOL. 125 | NO. 3 | Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Pipe Factory Plans Follow Tunica’s Hybrid Car Brouhaha

By Bill Dries

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PRECISION TECHNOLOGY: The $300 million Wilh. Shulz GMBH pipe plant bound for Tunica County will be the German company’s first North American plant and will employ 500 people over five years.
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

The Mississippi Legislature began a special session Tuesday with state incentives for a $300 million pipe plant in Tunica County on its agenda.

The session began the day after state officials announced the industrial plum will be built off Miss. 304 and Kirby Road in North Tunica County.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is seeking $15 million in bonds for infrastructure improvements around the site, where Wilh. Schulz GMBH of Krefeld, Germany, will build the plant. The state would also back or guarantee $20 million – a third – of the debt Schulz will incur in equipping the plant.

The Schulz plant announcement comes three months after plans for a $1 billion hybrid automotive plant were announced in Tunica County.

The Schulz plant is expected to create 500 new jobs in five years for the county, which posted a 12.1 percent unemployment rate in November.

The announcement by Barbour in the state capitol with Tunica County officials present was a contrast to the October announcement in Tunica by GreenTech Automotive Inc. Barbour was noticeably absent then as GreenTech’s Charles Wang talked of building 150,000 hybrid cars a year in a plan still awaiting financing.

The tentative plans for GreenTech, chronicled in the Dec. 5 Memphis News cover story about Tunica’s economy, include competing with a similar plant proposed for Alabama to be built by a former business partner of Wang’s.

Special sessions of the Mississippi Legislature are routinely called to approve incentives for industrial and other business expansions.

Rainer Floeth, managing director and CFO of Schulz, said his company had found the “perfect location” for a plant he described as a “crown investment.”

Tunica County officials have been anxious to add industrial plants like GreenTech and Schulz to a local economy in which casino gaming is the dominant employer, followed by agriculture.

“Schulz’s new facility in Tunica County will employ state-of-the-art pipe manufacturing processes, and the company found the skilled and dedicated work force necessary to make these operations a success here in Mississippi,” said Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Gray Swoope in a written statement.

The Tunica plant will make “clad” pipes, a type of bonded pipe made without seams and developed by Schulz for use in deepwater oil and gas fields.

Schulz executives say they already have orders for the pipes.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 72 218 10,440
MORTGAGES 91 293 13,620
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 25 68 2,712
BUILDING PERMITS 0 393 24,700
BANKRUPTCIES 62 184 10,076
BUSINESS LICENSES 25 62 3,798
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 90 338 14,895
MARRIAGE LICENSES 10 68 3,235

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