On September 6, Monotech/PSP Industries unveiled plans for a major expansion of its facility in this Northeast Mississippi county. The expansion will create 100 new jobs, and is welcome news for both Tishomingo County and Yellow Creek Port just north of Iuka on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway where Monotech/PSP’s plant is located.
“Monotech has been in operation since 1985. We appreciate Monotech, and strive diligently to meet their heavy lifting and shipping needs,” said Eugene Bishop, executive director of the Yellow Creek Port Authority (YCPA). “We appreciate the additional job opportunities created by Monotech/PSP Industries.”
Monotech/PSP-Iuka currently employs 200 workers at the Yellow Creek Port. (Monotech/PSP also has an 80,000-square-foot facility at Fulton in Itawamba County that employs nearly 100 workers.) The company manufactures mammoth air pollution control structures used by the electric power industry.
Before the expansion, Monotech/PSP-Iuka, which encompasses 190,000 square feet of shop area and an outside shop area of 65 acres, had a production capacity of 1,400 tons per month. It utilizes 41 overhead cranes ranging from 10,000 to 50,000 pounds.
Monotech/PSP-Iuka ships its large structures to Yellow Creek Port, and from there they go to power plants in the service region of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Monotech/PSP-Iuka’s largest customer. In addition to water access, the company also boasts truck and rail transportation.
Gary Matthews, executive director of the Tishomingo County Development Foundation, said a man standing next to one of Monotech/PSP-Iuka’s air pollution control structures “looks like an ant.” It takes a 100-foot crane to lift them. And he pointed out the company itself is huge, too, by county standards.
“With this expansion, Monotech will become the largest manufacturer in our county,” Matthews said.
(Monotech/PSP-Iuka greatest labor need is for experienced welders and fitters. The company has committed to hiring workers impacted from Hurricane Katrina.)
The company’s owner is PSP Industries Inc., which has been in operation for more than 50 years. In addition to the two Mississippi complexes, it owns Monotech of Texas. Between the three plants, PSP has more than 440,000 square feet of capacity sited on more than 175 acres. The combined production capacity is 4,000 tons per month, and its capabilities include supplying carbon, stainless and alloy fabrication in custom/complex plate fabrication, as well as everything from ductwork to tanks and bins. PSP has customers in the U.S., Canada and overseas.
The company advertises that it “can assemble large components at our Mississippi shop and barge ship them to your job site…”
Ship coming in
Yellow Creek Port, which was considered by the TVA for certification as a regional mega-site, has seen significant growth over the last few years. It has one plant under construction and has one 30,000-square-foot building currently available. It also has several thousand acres of unused industrial sites, including an 800-acre site at Burnsville that offers a new barge dock and access road.
Other relatively new developments at the port include the construction of a cement-handling and distribution facility, and the acquisition of a crane with the capacity to lift 300 tons.
Shipping and handling activities at the port are brisk. Approximately one barge (70 truck loads) per month is loaded at the new dock, and the YCPA and TCDF are working with industrial prospects that have a need for water transportation.
“Yellow Creek Port is fortunate to have several industries located at and near the port, including FerrouSouth, Dynasteel, Ergon, Classic Industrial, Spry Marine, Monotech and, now under construction, Skyline Steel,” Bishop said. “Approximately 350 people are employed at these fine companies. We expect to continue to grow.”
According to the Mississippi Development Authority, Skyline Steel is a $17-million project. It is expected to create an estimated 30 new jobs in the region. The target date for Skyline Steel going into operation is mid-2006, possibly sooner.
Bishop said Matthews calls Yellow Creek Port a “steel clustering,” While the steel industry will continue to be courted, Bishop said he and Matthews were looking to recruit non-steel industry, particularly at the Burnsville site.
High on that list of prospects are those with container-on-barge operations, which offers the ability to ship containerized cargo via water, helping to battle ever-increasing highway congestion. Bishop said the port was also looking to attract biodiesel operations.
Yellow Creek Port has been in operation since the 1970s, longer than the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Bishop said one of the keys to the port’s success is its water assets, with access both to the Tenn-Tom and the Tennessee River.
“We also have a proven capability to handle the steel industry’s cargo — big, heavy, large-volume handling,” Bishop said. “We have the necessary equipment, manpower and experience to show customers.”
Yellow Creek Port is a state-owned facility, governed by a board comprised of local people from the counties of Tishomingo, Itawamba, Alcorn and Prentiss.
Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at email@example.com.