June 30, 2014 11:29:06 AM
An official ribbon cutting for the new CalStar plant has not been set, but operations are already taking place there.
Construction of the facility at the Golden Triangle Regional Global Industrial Aerospace Park wrapped up late last month.
CalStar, whose home base is in Racine, Wisconsin, manufactures bricks and pavers from recycled industrial byproducts as opposed to clay, which emits about one pound of carbon dioxide per brick. One such material used to make the pavers and bricks includes fly ash, which is a byproduct of electric power generation.
Upon announcing that the company would locate a second plant in Columbus, officials said doing so would help CalStar achieve its mission of creating green jobs while enabling the company to serve more markets in the South and Southeast. CalStar officials say the products include up to 37 percent recycled content and requires up to 81 percent less energy to manufacture while emitting up to 84 percent less carbon dioxide to produce the materials.
John Stephenson, CalStar Chief Marketing Officer, said employees were testing materials and readying to run production for the new plant's first orders.
"We've got a very active workplace with people being trained," Stephenson said. "We're innovating at CalStar, and our newest plant in Columbus really showcases our capabilities while offering a glimpse at where we're headed in the future."
Before construction on the facility began last year, it was a 100,000-square-foot "spec building," or a shell used by developers to lure potential investors to locate operations in their community. Golden Triangle Development LINK officials announced nearly a year ago that the company would locate in Columbus and create 17 jobs when it began operations and at least 58 jobs over three years as the plant becomes fully operational.
Funding for construction came from a 20-year, $5.35 million loan to Lowndes County through the Mississippi Development Authority plus $5 million in private investment raised by CalStar.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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