An Alabama-based manufacturer of pavement marking material plans to open a new facility in Marion this spring.
Ozark Materials is in the process of occupying the former Bell Packaging plant, located at 3112 S. Boots St., a 177,000-square-foot facility. The company plans to initially create 15 jobs and perhaps more in the future, the Grant County Economic Growth Council announced Tuesday.
“We are excited to have them come in to Marion. They’re going to occupy a building that has been vacant in southeast Marion for some time,” Marion Mayor Jess Alumbaugh said. “This was a nice fit here.”
The Marion facility will specialize in manufacturing waterborne traffic paint, which can be used on various types of roadways and applied during low and high temperatures.
Moving to Marion, according to Tomy Gamble, director of finance and administration for Ozark Materials, was part of a natural expansion of services to the Northeast and Midwest markets. Marion was the right geographical location, he said, situated in the middle of the market area and close to the interstate.
Gamble said he hopes business will start as soon as possible at the Marion facility, in which Ozark Materials is investing $1.2 million for manufacturing equipment, research and development, logistics and IT.
“We are woefully behind in production for our sales, which is a wonderful problem to have as a company, as long as it doesn’t get too far back,” Gamble said. “We need Marion up and operational as quickly as we can possibly do that.”
The company is requesting a a nine-year, phased-in tax abatement for its equipment. The City Council’s Development Committee members gave that abatement request a favorable recommendation at its meeting Tuesday. The full council will hear the request at its regular meeting Tuesday.
The abatement, Gamble said, will greatly benefit the company’s development.
“Anything (we) can save goes back into what we can do here. It gives us the chance to spend the money somewhere else,” he said. “It impacts things all over.”
According to Gamble, the company has already collaborated with various local businesses, such as Bahr Brothers Manufacturing, for supplies.
“(Ozark Materials) have really been very aggressive about trying to establish a local vendor base,” said Tim Eckerle, executive director of the Growth Council. “They’re really good about that.”
Grant County WorkOne career center hosted open interviews for forklift drivers, production workers, an administrative operations assist and other Ozark positions Tuesday and today. More than 70 people showed up for interviews at WorkOne Tuesday.
Gamble said the salaries of the 15 positions will average out to more than $12 per hour. Employees will likely work 50-60 hours per week within the first summer. The positions will be year-round, full-time positions, despite most of the manufacturing work taking place during warmer seasons.
Gamble said he hopes to fully staff and operate the Marion plant before the summer.