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Railcar business hopes to expand

Business is booming for American Railcar Industries in Brookhaven.

The ARI Brookhaven plant, located at 113 Boyce St., will celebrate its fourth anniversary in October. The company’s facility is packed with railcars that can be seen from Industrial Park Road.

The company has 16 locations nationwide and each location differs in the jobs they offer customers. 

The company announced the expansion of operations to Brookhaven in 2013.

The plant in Brookhaven partnered with American Railcar’s existing plant in Bude in Franklin County. The Brookhaven plant specializes in full service repair of hopper and tank railcars. A hopper railcar is a type of freight car used to transport materials such as coal, ore and grain. 

Tank railcars are designed to transport liquid and gaseous commodities.

“It’s just like a car shop,” said plant superintendent Barry Cotten. “There are businesses that own railcars and they will call us if we need to inspect it, clean it or if repairs are requested.”

The costs for repairs, cleaning or inspection can range from $3,000 to $50,000, depending on what is actually done.

Cotten, who has been in the business 29 years, is excited about the potential of the Brookhaven plant.

“We’re in a good location. There’s a main rail line from New Orleans to Chicago. This plant is growing and we’re going to try and make this a stand-alone plant soon,” Cotten said.

According to Cotten, a stand-alone plant consists of doing more engine and transmission repair work, and bringing in additional equipment for railcar repair.

“The plant in Bude does a lot of painting, blasting, lining and they have a bigger repair shop. We want to add that to the plant here,” he said.

The Brookhaven plant has 24 employees and can service up to 120 cars.

Cotten said they want to expand to have over 200 available spots for railcars, which would bring in an additional 30 to 40 jobs.

“This is a good company,” Cotten said. “As long as we’re making money and doing things right, we’re going to keep investing and making our facilities nicer.”

Executive Director of the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce, Garrick Combs, said ARI is an outstanding company and employer for Southwest Mississippi.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with ARI and their staff for five years,” Combs said. “They have exceeded their promises and goals of jobs and investments in Brookhaven. I’ve really enjoyed working with them.”

The ARI deal in Brookhaven represented a $7-8 million investment by the company. Lincoln County provided a 10-year tax exemption for the company in 2015. A $719,113 federal grant funded the construction of a rail spur at the company’s location.