Capital Spending Tops $489 Million at Pine Bluff

Capital expenditures by Pine Bluff and Jefferson County industrial operations reached an all-time high last year - nearly a half billion dollars. In the process, 271 new jobs were created.

An explosion of construction by two companies accounted for the bulk of the $489 million spent by manufacturing and technology-based operations in the area.

Raytheon Demilitarization Co. led the way with $278 million in investments and 59 new jobs created. The company's construction arm, Raytheon Constructors, has 317 craft workers, 128 office personnel and 57 substitutes not included in the count.

Raytheon is the huge firm building the $512 million chemical weapon incinerator at the Pine Bluff Arsenal. The chemical demilitarization program is expected to run through 2007 at a cost of about $1 billion. Raytheon will employ nearly 900 workers during construction and 650 during operation of the incinerator.

The other major investment, to the tune of $140 million and 15 new jobs created, was by SkyGen Energy. The company is hiring about 300 construction employees to build the Pine Bluff Energy Center that will provide power to International Paper Co. and to the region. Located next to the paper mill, the state-of-the-art 220-megawatt cogeneration plant is being developed by SkyGen Energy and Coral Power Generation. Fueled by natural gas, the plant will primarily supply steam to the paper mill for use in its papermaking process. It will also produce electricity that will be available on the wholesale market.

And International Paper's Pine Bluff Mill, which produces about 25 percent of the world's demand for the paper used in liquid-containing cartons, invested nearly $39 million last year to upgrade its equipment.

Other multimillion dollar investments came from: Gaylord Container Corp., $11 million; the National Center for Toxicological Research, $4 million and 23 jobs; Pine Bluff Arsenal, $3.5 million; TrefilARBED Arkansas Inc., $3 million and 20 jobs; Mid-America Packaging Inc., $2.5 million and 30 jobs; Century Tube Corp., $2.2 million; and Aramark Uniform Services, $2 million and 15 jobs. Combined, Central Moloney Inc. and Central Moloney Components Operations invested nearly $1.3 million while adding 42 jobs.