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Plant expansion brings new jobs to Lawrence Co.

MONTICELLO — A Lincoln County industry will soon expand a largeportion of its operations here after signing a lease for the oldKellwood Manufacturing Cutting Plant.

The announcement came during the presentation of an Entergy$247,000 infrastructure loan to Foster Millworks and TimberProducts co-owner Anthony Foster at the plant Friday.

“This money will be used to purchase equipment that will reduceenergy consumption and increase productivity,” Thompson said. “Thiswill enable Foster Millworks to be more competitive, moreprofitable and provide more jobs.

“Mississippi Development Authority Entergy Division will bewatching with great interest in the progress of Foster Millworksand will take great pride in knowing that we had a small part intheir success,” he added.

Foster said it was the efforts of Lawrence County officials,state officials they recruited into their efforts and the people ofthe county who drew them here.

“No one has been as open as Lawrence County,” Foster said. “Theyhelped us in as many ways as possible. We didn’t get that kind ofsupport from the other counties we looked at. We’re looking forwardto a great, long relationship with the people of LawrenceCounty.”

Foster said the company started in a 30’x30′ garage in Brandonwith two employees, his father and himself. It grew to 30 employeesand moved to Brookhaven, where the Fosters had family, in 1993 intoa larger building.

“Now we have the work to do bigger and better things, butwithout the employees and the facilities to do them,” Foster said.”This will change all that.”

The 39,800 square foot plant will triple the work space, Fostersaid. The company will still be based at the present facility inBrookhaven, but will move their larger projects here.

Foster said the Monticello branch will start with 25 to 30employees and hopefully slowly increase to approximately 100 in ayear’s time.

The company’s main focus is commercial architectural millwork,but they also make commercial cabinets, molding, wood doors andhunting calls.

“It’s important to me that Lawrence County residents know thisis not a grant,” Foster said. “This is not free money to help usmake the move. This is a loan we have to pay back, so taxpayershave lost nothing in bringing us here. I believe industries shouldhelp and become a part of the communities they move into, not theother way around.”

District 41 Rep. Joey Hudson applauded the Fosters on theirchoice of counties.

“I admire very much the courage they have to come, and we’regrateful they chose to come here,” he said. “Hopefully, they’lllook back in 20 years and say this was one of the best moves theymade.”

Beat 3 Supervisor Calvin Rutland echoed Hudson’s and Sen. CindyHyde-Smith’s remarks.

“We’re just proud to have them in Lawrence County, and we’llhelp them however we can,” Rutland said.

Mayor David Nichols said this was one more indication that thecounty was rebounding from the closure of Kellwood Manufacturingmore than a year ago.

“We’re very, very pleased and proud that Monticello hasattracted another new industry to our great town,” he said. “Wefeel confident that this is not the last announcement of a newindustry locating to Monticello soon.”

A second industry has been looking into acquiring or leasing theKellwood main plant, but negotiations are still ongoing, accordingto Paul McLain, director of the Lawrence County CommunityDevelopment Association.