September 15, 2010 9:42:00 AM
The economy may have slowed things down, but the PACCAR engine plant -- the newest and one of the biggest feathers in the region''s industrial cap -- is suddenly humming along. The company, which has typically remained guarded about what''s happening inside its Lowndes County plant, said Monday it has already produced more than 1,000 engines at the facility.
Company officials said that around 100 workers are assembling engines at the 400,000-square-foot plant, which is expected to employ 500 workers by 2013, under an agreement with the state. The 12.9-liter diesel engines will be used in the company''s Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks. "The facility is the most technologically advanced commercial vehicle diesel engine facility in North America," the company said in a release.
The plant''s opening is good news for the Golden Triangle, which has scored more than a few wins lately. Biofuel company KiOR recently announced plans to build a refinery in Columbus, which will employ about 50 workers to turn trees from a 50-mile radius around the plant into crude oil. Aurora Flight Sciences, which employs about 60 engineers and technicians at its unmanned aircraft facility, said its employment will likely double after landing a new military contract. Earlier this year, unmanned vehicle maker Stark Aerospace completed a 20,000-square-foot expansion of its facility.
We''ve had some losses, too. Among them are Domtar, which recently closed its Columbus paper mill, for a loss of 219 jobs.
But Paccar, like Stark and Aurora, are bringing high-caliber, high-tech jobs to the area -- many of which don''t require an advanced degree. Gov. Haley Barbour, who was on hand Monday for a ribbon-cutting at the PACCAR plant, pointed out that folks with just a high-school education can work at PACCAR in a state-of-the-art setting -- something that''s too rarely attainable in north Mississippi.
We''re happy PACCAR is ready to rev up local production -- and hope the effect is another jump-start to the area''s economy.