Packaging firm picks plant site

Published 5:00 am Thursday, September 22, 2005

Global Packaging Systems Inc. will soon make its presence feltin Monticello’s economy when it locates in the Kellwood and McLanebuildings.

Company executives and county and city officials finalizedpaperwork this week to seal the long-anticipated deal with thebiodegradable-products business.

Global Packaging Systems Inc. will operate a headquarters officeand a small manufacturing plant in a portion of the McLanebuilding, while its main plant operations will be conducted in theKellwood building, said Bob Smira, executive director of theLawrence County Community Development Association.

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Global Packaging will sublease a portion of the McLane buildingto Industrial Supply Co., a commercial marketing business that willsell Global Packaging and other industrial products, he said.

The two companies initially will need to hire about 16 to 18employees for the McLane building operations and 34 workers for theKellwood plant, Smira said.

“By year five, the company’s projection is for 277 jobs at theKellwood building,” he said.

The packaging company hopes to begin actual product startupoperations in January 2006. In the meantime, executives will besetting up the equipment and coordinating pre-employment trainingswith Copiah-Lincoln Community College and the U.S. EmploymentService, Smira said.

“It could be that they move into the McLane building within thenext two weeks or so, but there’s some work to be done on theKellwood building,” he said.

Modifications and repairs need to be conducted on both theinterior and the exterior of the building for it to meet theirneeds, Smira said.

Those efforts will likely be delayed for a few weeks because ofHurricane Katrina recovery efforts. The American Red Cross wasgiven permission this week to use the building to establish aregional service center capable of seeing 5,000 people a day. TheRed Cross center will be in place for at least 30 days.

The delay should not prevent the company from beginningoperations on its projected startup date in January, though, Smirasaid.

The community development director said he was excited not onlyabout the number of jobs the new industries will bring into thecounty but also the quality of those jobs.

“These are not minimum-wage jobs,” he said. “This is the type ofjob I feel this part of the state needs because it fills that voidleft when Kellwood closed down several years ago.”

Global Packaging will specialize in manufacturing biodegradablepackaging products, such as meat trays with absorbent pads. Theproducts can be “programmed” to begin degradation after a certaintime period or after they receive a “shock,” such as being run overin a landfill.

“This is not necessarily new (technology),” Smira said. “Thetechnology to make plastics from agricultural products has beenaround for about 15 years, but it has always been more expensive.Now, with technological advances and the rising costs of oil, theyhave become more economical.”

Officials began courting the industry in August 2003, he said,and the executives have been seeking the best financing optionsfrom private investors since August 2004.

Similar packaging industries exist in the state, but what makesGlobal Packaging unique is that it will specialize in biodegradableproducts, Smira said.