Posted 2/23/2012 09:06 am
Updated 2 years ago
Welspun Corp. Ltd said Thursday that it will add 200 jobs and invest an additional $100 million in the Little Rock facility where it makes large-diameter pipe for the oil and gas industry.
The company made the announcement at a news conference attended by Gov. Mike Beebe, state economic development officials, city leaders and company executives Thursday at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.
At the news conference, Welspun officials said they were pleased with the performance of the Little Rock plant, which it opened in April 2009.
"We are extremely delighted at the performance of our Little Rock facility, which has cemented the firm's global reach in servicing some of the largest oil and gas companies in the world," B. K. Goenka, Welspun's chairman, said in a news release.
"We believe that this new investment will pave the way for Welspun to continue on its path of becoming one of the most respected line-pipe companies in the world, and we are thankful to the City of Little Rock for the support that they have extended in fulfilling our dream."
With the expansion, Welspun's total investment in the plant will reach $280 million. The plant currently employs about 530 people. This will be the plant's second expansion, following the addition of 230 jobs in 2010.
At the announcement, Beebe said he was proud of the confidence the India-based pipes company has shown in Arkansas. He said the move represents a diversification of the company's Little Rock operations.
The expansion will allow Welspun to expand its product line of steel pipes to include 6-inch to 20-inch steel pipes. The new manufacturing lines will be located in a second building on 44 adjacent acres purchased by the company in 2009. The new operation will start with one shift, but Welspun eventually wants three.
The pipes will be shipped around the world, company officials said.
The state provided a mulit-million dollar incentive package that includes the following:
- 3.9 percent cash rebate of total payroll for new jobs over a 10-year period
- $4.5 million community development block grant for site prep, building and infrastructure
- Sales tax refund on eligible construction materials associated with the expansion
- $300,000 for training reimbursements.
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola told ArkansasBusiness.com the city will provide about $500,000 worth of incentives to Welspun for the expansion, and that the Little Rock Port Authority will lease land to Welspun at a "nominal fee" for a slackwater harbor.
The Little Rock incentive money will come from the $22 million economic development fund created by the sales tax initiative approved by city voters last year.
In addition, at the city's request, Welspun will concentrate hiring efforts within the city's empowerment zone around the port.
Welspun's managing director, Rajesh Mandawewala said the investment will catapult Little Rock as an important destination in the "world of pipe."
Welspun vice president Rajesh Chokhani, who scouted and tabbed Little Rock as a potential U.S. destination for the company in 2007, said Arkansas had delivered on its promise to provide an outstanding workforce.
"We're really proud to call Little Rock home, and excited about our future in the state," he said.
Welspun's spiral pipe and coating facility is located on 740 acres adjacent to the Port of Little Rock. The company claims an annual production capacity of more than 350,000 tons of pipe. The expansion will add 200,000 tons of production capacity to the operation.