Ripley plant expansion could add 200 jobs

RIPLEY – For the second time in a week, a Northeast Mississippi furniture manufacturer has announced expansion plans.
On Thursday, New Albany-based Albany Industries said it had acquired the former Agracel facility in the North Ripley Industrial Park. Albany is increasing production with the purchase of the 260,000-square-foot building, where it hopes to begin production in late June. As many as 200 jobs could be created, company officials said.
Last Friday, Pontotoc-based Southern Motion said it was adding at least 200 jobs in the next two years, with hopes of hiring 400 workers in the next five years.
“Production capacity had reached a peak in our New Albany facility and additional manufacturing space was needed,” said Albany Industries President Richie McLarty.
Albany was founded in 1995 with 15 employees. The upholstered furniture maker and importer now has nearly 500 employees at its 700,000-square-foot facility in Union County.
“The acquisition of this facility was critical to our expansion needs for space and employment,” McLarty said. “We appreciate the assistance afforded by local and state officials in making this acquisition possible.”
The company will use the new site primarily for manufacturing, as well as a customer pickup location.
Tippah County Development Foundation Executive Director Duane Bullard said talks began several months ago to get Albany to Ripley.
“The Tippah County Board of Supervisors, Tippah County Development Foundation, Agracel, TVA, Mississippi Business Finance Corp., Mississippi Development Authority and The Peoples Bank of Ripley have all worked very hard over the past few months to broker a path to allow Albany Industries to invest their new expansion needs in Tippah County,” he said.
The jobs to be generated by Albany are welcome news.
On Wednesday, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security released preliminary figures showing that Northeast Mississippi registered a 12 percent unemployment rate in April. In Tippah County, the rate was 15.4 percent.

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal