Albemarle Corp. of Charlotte, North Carolina, announced Wednesday a $540 million plan to expand and modernize two bromine facilities in Magnolia.
The company said it expects expansions at two facilities to create 250 construction jobs and a 15% increase in total jobs at the two facilities, with an average annual salary of $100,000.
Albemarle said its two facilities in Magnolia employ more than 400 Albemarle employees and 200 contractors, making it the largest corporate employer in Columbia County.
The company said the project, "designed to meet growing demand for fire safety and specialty products in several industries," has begun and will continue through 2027.
"We have a long, rich history of operations in Columbia County with a strong commitment to both the community and the economy in the region," said Netha Johnson, Albemarle's president of bromine. "The facility investments, along with the jobs and the economic stability they bring, reaffirm our dedication to the area and to meeting our customers' needs as we work together to build the technologies of the future for a safer, greener world."
Albemarle produces high-demand bromine and derivative products used in fire safety, chemical synthesis, oil and gas well drilling and completion fluids, mercury control, paper manufacturing, water purification, beef and poultry processing, and other industrial applications.
"It has been a pleasure working with the Albemarle team and seeing this project come to fruition," said Ellie Baker, director of Magnolia Economic Development. "Albemarle has been a household name in south Arkansas for over 50 years. Its presence is felt throughout the county as a multi-generational employer and partner in community projects, schools, and events."
In a news release, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the company has been a "strong business partner" in the region for decades.
"The jobs being created through this expansion are good, high-paying jobs that will positively impact the families of these new employees," he said.
The company said that, in addition to its capital investment, Albemarle is working with the Arkansas Office of Skills Development to provide leadership and technical training at its Magnolia locations. The programs "are designed help local residents build skills and gain experience to fill the new jobs," the company said.
In addition to Magnolia Economic Development, the company said the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and Entergy Arkansas Inc., the plant’s electrical power supplier, are supporting the project's development.
According to the AEDC, the state has offer the company two incentives: Tax Back, which provides sales and use tax refunds on the purchase of building materials and taxable machinery, and five years of the Create Rebate program, an annual cash rebate based on the number of jobs added by a company and targeted wages.
On Tuesday, the Magnolia Reporter reported that the company was scheduled to ask Columbia County government to authorize issuance of industrial development revenue bonds to finance the expansion of its Magnolia operations.