• 61°

Lawrence industries expanding

MONTICELLO — Two county industries are presently undergoingexpansions or upgrades, according to officials.

A $450,000 no interest loan from Southern Pine Electric PowerAssociation to the county to assist Atlas Bucket ManufacturingCompany has left that company with a few options, said Paul McLain,director of the Lawrence County Community Development Association,and a $7.5 million expansion at Joe N. Miles and Sons will increasetheir production as well as expand their logging base.

The Southern Pine loan was paid to the county to repay a former$450,000 5.62 percent interim loan the county took to help AtlasBucket locate here. It was used to purchase the property thecompany is located on. The county owns the property and leases itto the company.

McLain said by paying off the 5.62 percent interest loan andreplacing it with a zero percent loan, they are able to lower thepayments Atlas must pay the county to lease the property. Thisfrees up money for the company to apply towards an expansion orequipment upgrades.

“They presently have some growth-oriented plans, but they hingeon certain contingencies,” he said.

This is the third zero percent interest loan awarded to thecounty by Southern Pine and the largest amount. Southern Pine isreceiving the zero interest loan funds from USDA RuralDevelopment.

“Atlas Bucket is now in its third year of operation here, andthe company has experienced steady growth,” McLain said. “It hasgrown from employing 20 to 30 people in manufacturing andfabricating metal crane buckets used primarily in dredging.”

Last year, Atlas supplied the buckets that pulled up thewreckage from the Egypt Air tragedy and recently furnished an orderfor four 17,000 lb. single line buckets used in ship unloading thatwill be exported to Mexico.

“We are grateful to Donald Jordan and Charlie Robinson ofSouthern Pine, Jack Rhodes and Tim Mood of the Electric PowerAssociations of Mississippi and Nick Walters, Mike Ladner, RobertCollier and the staff of USDA Rural Development for making thispossible,” McLain said. “We also look forward to working with LarryCrowell and Atlas Bucket as their business continues to grow.”

Crowell is president of Atlas Bucket.

At Miles, a $7.5 million expansion that has been in the planningstages for approximately a year is seeing fruition. The company isbuilding a small log line at its Silver Creek facility.

The new production line will produce lumber from logs with smalldiameters and create about five new jobs.

“Much of their existing equipment is not set up for that,”McLain said. “They are set up to handle the medium and larger logs.But that is changing. They will also add five new jobs as a resultof this expansion to handle the new log line.”

The new production line will make logs with smaller diametersmore valuable, McLain said. Lumber produced from them will be morevaluable than chopping them up into pulpwood.

The $7.5 million is a capital investment in the facility andcounty by Miles Lumber. No grants or loans are involved.

This shows the trust which has developed between the company andcounty, McLain said.

“Although this expansion will add five jobs, it will lead toincreased efficiency and production, which could promote furthergrowth in the future,” he said. “To make a $7.5 million investmentin Lawrence County shows Miles is committed and willing to makeupgrades here.”

The board of supervisors assisted the company in their expansionby paving the asphalt apron at the public access road to the plant.Calvin Fortenberry, board president and Beat 4 supervisor, servedas the project manager.

“I’ll do everything I can to help them,” he said. “What I admireabout them is they do it all themselves without asking for help orgrants.”

Miles plans to have the new line in operation this month and inproduction next month.