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Clarksdale company shifts emphasis to meet manufacturing needs


Standard Industrial in Clarksdale has met the needs of manufacturing in its nearly 30 years of existence.

Standard Industrial builds hydraulic presses, brakes and shears, “things that make stuff,” Standard Industrial President Steve Hays said.

It is putting in a new line that will cost $1.357 million and create 25 jobs.

Standard Industrial is expanding within its facility in the Leonard Pharr Industrial Park to accommodate a new production line that “gives us the capacity to manufacture even larger equipment than we previously have been able to produce,” Standard  said in a release.

The new line will enable manufacturers to create steel products such as shelving and desks.

In the past, much of Standard’s role has been to make machinery to turn out heavy metal for things such as military tanks and oil exploration and coal mining equipment.

Oil and natural gas exploration has dwindled sharply in recent years, ironically due to the success of a breakthrough in extraction called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Coal mining has come under fire under the Obama administration’s application of the Clean Air Act.

The impact has resulted in a downturn of production and for machinery needed for that.

Mississippi has felt the impact.

Metso Minerals Corp. is shutting down its plant in Clarksdale, where it manufactures conveyor belts to move coal.

A staunch employer for nearly 60 years, the plant will close its doors on Oct. 28

“It’s pretty tragic,” said Tana Vassel, director of economic development for the county. “People have been working there for 20 or 30 years.”

Employment at the plant, whose Finland-based parent is making companywide cuts, was about 70 when the closure decision was announced, Vassel said. Calls to the plant for this article were not returned.

Metso Minerals is the world’s leading supplier of processing, screening, conveying, and recycling systems for rock and minerals, according to encyclopedia.com.

Just breaking even in manufacturing mining equipment, the company is switching emphasis to sales of services and flow-control equipment, according to mining.com.

Caterpillar Inc. announced in April that it will close its Oxford plant and eliminate 240 jobs over 12 to 18 months.

The shutdown . will not affect the Peoria, Ill.-based  heavy-equipment manufacturer’s operations in Corinth and Booneville, said spokeswoman Rachel Potts.

It is part of a restructuring announced last September in which 10,000 of its 114,000 jobs worldwide will be eliminated over three years.

The company blames lower global demand for minerals, and thus lower prices, that has affected its financial performance.

The Mississippi Development Authority provided assistance for the Standard Industrial building construction. The Delta Regional Authority and Coahoma County are also assisting with the project.

Standard Industrial plans to start construction on its new production line in December.

It signed a 20-year lease with the county and the plant will be more energy efficient, Hays said.

The Mississippi Development Authority gave $400,000 for the overall upgrade and the Delta Regional Authority awarded a $150,000 grant, Hays said.


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