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Another DynaSteel expansion boosts Yellow Creek

DynaSteel Corporation is at it again. Last week, president Jim Russell announced the expansion of the Iuka operation at Yellow Creek Port. This marks yet a second expansion of the Iuka operation in two years, and the Memphis-based company expanded its Natchez complex in 2007.

“Our Mississippi operations are very key to our company,” Russell said. “We have found a great workforce and great cooperation in Mississippi, and Mississippi will obviously play a key role in our future plans.”

Waterside growth

In business since 1970, DynaSteel is a specialty fabricator of pollution-control equipment for electric power plants, process equipment for cement mills and other specialty fabrication with production facilities. Due to spiraling transportation costs and lack of skilled labor, DynaSteel’s customers require the corporation’s products to be prefabricated. Due to the products’ size, shipping can only be done by barge, making access to water at places such as Natchez and Iuka a must.

In 2007, DynaSteel doubled the size of its operation at the Natchez/Adams County Port, adding 42,000 square feet there. The company has been in Natchez since 2001.

The Iuka expansion involves a 42,000-square-foot building with 45-foot hook height and bridge cranes ranging from 20 to 50 tons. The new building will also contain a unique welding and blueprint-reading classroom for onsite training.

This means a jump in the company’s payroll. With 150 workers, the Iuka facility is seeking additional welders and other metal trades.

Tishomingo County Board of Supervisors president Brandon Grissom said, “DynaSteel has seen steady growth over the last five years, and this is the company’s second expansion within the last two years. DynaSteel’s commitment to quality and timely delivery means the company will continue to compete well in the global marketplace.”

Gary Matthews, executive director of the Tishomingo County Development Foundation (TCDF), said the county worked with DynaSteel for approximately a year on the Yellow Creek Port expansion.

While a receding economy is causing many manufacturers to slow or shut down, Russell said DynaSteel is forging ahead and sees a bright future. He called the corporation’s business “lumpy” — many factors play into how busy, or not, DynaSteel stays. While he admits that the company could see a short-term impact from the credit crunch and a “little lull,” he and his team believe more growth is headed the firm’s way.

Bustling port

The latest DynaSteel expansion at Yellow Creek Port is certainly not the only positive at the complex that has developed a “steel cluster.” The 1,100-acre super site is home to six tenants, and of those, the TCDF lists two as new (Roll Form Group and Skyline Steel) and three (FerrouSouth, Monotech/PSP Products and DynaSteel) have recently expanded.

Matthews said the port has several things going for it. Location is ideal on the Tenn-Tom Waterway. Freight can move in any direction on the compass from Yellow Creek.

The port is, once again, a requirement for its tenants that have no other option to ship except by water.

Finally, there is a good labor pool. The Labor Commuting Map shows Tishomingo County and surrounding areas draw workers from a 60-mile radius. The latest numbers available show the total number of in-commuters at more than 1,400 workers.

The latest 12-month moving average unemployment rate is 8.7%, meaning companies have available workers from which to pull.

Yellow Creek tenants are some of the county’s largest employers. Monotech/PSP employs 200, Skyline employs 75, Roll Form has 100 workers and DynaSteel, before the expansion, has a payroll of 85 employees.

On the ground

Yellow Creek is not the only positive in Tishomingo County. It still has an important tourism industry, which could soon get a major shot in the arm.

Matthews said Pickwick Lake continues to go “great guns.” New construction and additions can be found all along the lake that is home to impressive houses and numerous service businesses. And Tishomingo State Park continues to draw visitors.

One large project could significantly change the county’s landscape. A project is being proposed for Bay Springs Lake that encompasses more than 1,000 acres and would represent a capital investment of approximately $300 million. Matthews said it is exciting, but added that it is yet a done deal.

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at wally.northway@msbusiness.com.

About Wally Northway

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