By BECKY GILLETTE
Mississippi political and economic leaders have targeted new high skill jobs as a top priority for helping not only individual workers, but the state’s economy. And the state is getting just that with the expansion of the Newton foundry, which is the largest manufacturing facility in the ESCO division of the Scotland-based Weir Group. The Newton foundry is also one of the largest in the whole Weir Group from a total of more than 200 facilities in about 70 countries.
“The foundry was first opened in 1971 and it has been an important part of the business ever since,” said Travis Wilhelm, the site manager of the Newton foundry.
Recently the Weir Group announced an expansion of the Newton plant that manufactures ground engaging equipment for mining and other uses that will add an additional 150 jobs at the plant. The Weir Group plans on investing $15 million as part of a $50-million expansion program that will bring the total employment to 400. That represents an increase of employment of about 60 percent from 2016. The expansion is expected to be complete by August.
“Newton is an excellent fit for our company,” said Wilhelm. “It has been home to the foundry for almost fifty years. In that time, we have benefited from the great pool of talent in the local community and from the support for world-class engineering and manufacturing here in Mississippi. I think that commitment was emphasized by the recent presence of Gov. Phil Bryant and Mayor Murray Weems at our foundry to celebrate our expansion.”
The products manufactured at the Newton facility demonstrate ‘Made in Mississippi’ is truly a stamp of quality worldwide, Bryant said.
“Mississippi is a strong manufacturing state, and prominent companies like the Weir Group and its ESCO division in Newton know our work force is one of the best in the world,” Bryant said. “Workers strive every day to produce world-class products like Weir’s quality mining equipment for its global consumers.”
Assistance for the expansion if being provided by the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) is the form of workforce training, as well as statutory tax exemptions.
“MDA salutes the teamwork of the Mid-Mississippi Economic Development District, the Newton County Board of Supervisors and the mayor and aldermen of the City of Newton, which was instrumental in bringing so many new career opportunities to the people of East Mississippi,” said MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. “The Weir Group’s ESCO division with its talented employees show the world each day that global manufacturing leaders find the people and place needed for success in Mississippi.”
More than 80 percent of what is produced at the Newton foundry is sold in foreign countries, more than 30 ranging from Australia to Canada.
“We provide the highly engineered ground engaging tools that are crucial to the productive extraction of resources on mines around the world,” Wilhelm said. “Our equipment is used in some of the most challenging operating environments on earth and as such the quality and longevity of the materials is crucial. It’s our reputation for quality and performance that has helped make us global market leaders and that success is due in large part to the hard work and professionalism of the great team we have here in Newton.”
Wilhelm said these are very highly skilled jobs.
“Our tools are used to extract and move hard rock and ore in very harsh environments,” Wilhelm said. “To operate efficiently in those conditions requires great materials science and excellent foundry and manufacturing skills. Our ability to consistently deliver products that last longer and helps produce more ore is why we have a strong market position and why customers all over the world rely on the products made here in Mississippi.”
Weir Group CEO Jon Stanton said they chose to increase the company’s investment in Newton because it is home to highly skilled people who are passionate about producing world-class products.
“The equipment we make in Mississippi is exported around the world and the increased demand from our mining and infrastructure customers gives us great confidence in the future,” Stanton said.
The Weir Group is listed on the London Stock Exchange and employs about 18,000 people worldwide focused on mining, oil and gas, and power markets. The company was first established in 1871 as an engineering firm by brothers George and James Weir.
For more information, see the website www.global.weir.
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