Heartland Fund of Little Rock Invests $10M in SGL's Ozark Plant

Heartland Renaissance Fund of Little Rock announced Tuesday that it will invest $10 million in a new SGL Group facility in Ozark.

SGL manufactures graphite and carbon electrodes and other carobon-based products. Its Ozark operation, opened in 1981, employs roughly 90. Heartland's investment is a part of a $26 million overhaul of the Ozark plant, announcd in April, that it says will replace current operations with a state-of-the-art graphitization process for the manufacture of graphite electrodes, used for the production of steel in electric arc furnaces.

The new plant is expected to be completed by June 2015.

The Heartland investment is being made as part of the federal New Markets Tax Credits Program. Heartland is an affiliate of Arkansas Capital Corporation.

Heartland has received a New Markets Tax Credit allocation of $200 million, and is working to deploy low-cost capital to businesses throughout Arkansas. It is a private, nonprofit corporation established in 2002 for the sole purpose of distributing New Markets credits.

In the release, SGL said the investment will enable it to retain jobs and "strategically position" itself for the future in Ozark, where it pays higher-than-average wages. The overhaul at Ozark will yield cleaner technology, reduce energy consumption by about 20 percent and have a major impact on SGL's competitive position, company officials said.

"High tech manufacturing projects like SGL Group are invaluable to the economy of the state and provide valuable jobs to the community," C. Sam Walls, chairman of the board for Heartland and CEO for Arkansas Capital, said in the release. "The Heartland Renaissance Fund is the only Arkansas-based New Markets Tax Credits program dedicated solely to Arkansas-based economic development, and it is critical to ensuring Arkansas businesses have access to the capital needed to both expand and remain competitive. We are excited to be working with SGL on this project."

SGL employs more than 90 people in Ozark. It is the only SGL facility that produces the full range of electrode sizes, 14 inch to 32 inch. Feedstock for the plant comes from SGL Group's Hickman, Ky., facility.

In addition to the Ozark plant, SGL operates the Hitco Carbon Composites plant in Arkadelphia, which makes high-performance insulation components for aircraft.

SGL Group has 47 production sites in Europe, North America and Asia and a service network covering more than 100 countries. The company, headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany, claims 6,700 employees worldwide.