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Zekelman Plans $120M Expansion of Atlas Tube Facilities in Blytheville

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Steel pipe and tube manufacturer Zekelman Industries of Chicago on Thursday announced that it plans to invest up to $120 million in an expansion of its Atlas Tube facilities in Blytheville.

The project will bring the total number of Atlas Tube employees in the area to more than 300, the company said in a news release. Atlas Tube is a subsidiary of Zekelman.

Atlas Tube has two facilities in Blytheville, a 450,000-SF manufacturing site that opened around 2006 and a 515,000-SF electric resistance welding steel mill that opened in May 2022. Zekelman invested more than $250 million in the latter facility, according to the release.

That project aimed to help the company meet demand for bigger sizes of steel that clients currently have to import from overseas. The larger sizes are ideal for bridges, warehouses, stadiums and highways signage.

The company’s latest project will allow it to manufacture inline steel tube galvanizing products in size ranges not currently available in North America, according to the release.

“We are proud that Zekelman has chosen to expand in Blytheville,” Clint O’Neal, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, said in a news release. “Mississippi County is the leading steel-producing county in the nation – this is made possible by great companies and visionary local leaders.”

Along with the expansion, Zekelman said it would provide $250,000 to Arkansas Northeastern College to support area students in the steel industry and aviation maintenance degree programs.

The funds, distributed over the next five years, will cover educational costs for at least 10 students annually who are obtaining an associate’s degree in applied science. Those students will also have the opportunity to pursue internships at Atlas Tube’s facilities in Blytheville.

“Education and skills training are crucial to developing the next generation of workers,” said Tom Muth, chief operating officer at Zekelman. “Our goal at Zekelman is to prepare, nurture and inspire students entering the thriving and well-paying steel industry.

“Our commitment is representative of our partnership with the Blytheville community and ongoing dedication to domestic-only manufacturing.”

The AEDC offered Zekelman the following incentives for the expansion: the Tax Back program, which provides sales and use tax refunds on the purchase of building materials and taxable machinery; five years of the Create Rebate program, an annual cash rebate based on the number of jobs added by a company and targeted wages; and a $725,000 Community Development Block Grant.

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