By Brian Livingston / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
Monday morning Gov. Phil Bryant led a contingent of state, county and local officials in announcing the restarting of the CertainTeed plant in the Southern Industrial Park located on Highway 11 South across from Meridian Regional Airport.
Bryant said CertainTeed is investing $24 million in the next two years in preparing for reopening the manufacturing division of the plant that shut down in 2009 amid the nation's economic woes. Bryant said the state is contributing about $1.7 million to the project.
"The reopening of this facility today is great news for Meridian and the entire state of Mississippi, and I am proud CertainTeed is reinvesting in Mississippi to create jobs for the area's workforce," Bryant said. "CertainTeed's commitment to Mississippi is truly appreciated, and this restart of operations symbolizes a new beginning of success and prosperity."
Bryant said Mississippi is now in the top 10 nationally in terms of economic development projects.
CertainTeed is one of North America's leading building products manufacturers. The company ceased operations in Meridian in 2009, keeping only the distribution and administrative personnel, when the market downturn hit the building products industries hard.
Bryant said by 2016 the plant should employ about 110 new positions.
CertainTeed is a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain, one of the top 100 industrial companies in the world that employs about 19,000 people in North America and more than 193,000 worldwide. Saint-Gobain is headquartered in Paris, France.
Graham Thayer, vice president and general manager of CertainTeed, said this announcement marks a new chapter in the company and in Meridian.
"One of the best decisions we made was to keep a team here and now we are expanding that team," Thayer said. "We have always kept the desire to come back to this site."
David Johnson, a spokesman for CertainTeed, said the next couple of years will be spent dusting off the equipment, replacing some out of date machinery and generally getting the plant ready for a 21st Century operation.
"There really won't be a whole lot of changes from what you see here now," Johnson said. "Most of the work will be done inside as we prepare the machinery, install new technology and refurbish other aspects of the plant."
"CertainTeed is a great company and we welcome them back," Meridian City Council member George Thomas said. "We have worked very hard for this to happen and it wouldn't be possible without everyone's input and effort."
Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry said this is an exciting day for Meridian, Lauderdale County and the state of Mississippi. She said in a short address that all of the parties involved had one goal and that was to bring more jobs back to the area.
"But I think what this project demonstrated was the biggest asset we have is the people themselves," Barry said.
CertainTeed president and CEO John Crowe said that the improved market in building materials, the tremendous efforts of Gov. Bryant, Barry, the Mississippi Development Authority and many other state and local economic development leaders, CertainTeed celebrates the rebirth of this facility.
"Given the state of the economy when we had to idle down the plant we weren't sure we could come back," Crowe said. "But through market recovery and solid growth we are bringing this facility back with the promise of quality jobs to be filled by hard working Mississippians."