JACKSON – In the governor’s offices in the Sillers Building are about 50 Zody office chairs manufactured by United Chair.
Michigan-based Haworth Inc., the owner of United Chair, announced Thursday that those office chairs will be produced at its plant in Bruce, creating an additional 125 jobs.
About 180 employees already work at the Bruce plant.
Gov. Haley Barbour announced the expansion at a news conference Thursday, flanked by Calhoun County officials, legislators, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and Haworth officials.
“This is great news for the state of Mississippi, especially during these tough economic times,” Barbour said.
Kevin Bailey, Haworth’s vice president for North American operations, said the Bruce plant is being expanded in an effort by the company to get “lean” by better leveraging its existing facilities and equipment.
The company has 14 North American plants. It is closing a plant in Michigan by mid-year and moving those operations – the manufacture of the Zody office chair – to existing space in the Bruce plant. Equipment will be moved, but no additional construction will be needed at the plant.
The Mississippi Development Authority will provide $500,000 to help with needed infrastructure improvements such as roads and water and sewer work and to help move equipment from Michigan to Bruce.
The federally funded Appalachian Regional Commission will kick in $219,000 and the city of Bruce and Calhoun County will provide $115,000 – much of that in-kind services.
Bruce Mayor Robert Oakley said much of the local contribution will be in-kind services – such as infrastructure improvements – that will benefit the whole community.
Sen. Jack Gordon, D-Okolona, said the Bruce expansion is especially welcome at a time when Northeast Mississippi furniture manufacturing employment is declining because of jobs moving to foreign countries.
The jobs being created will average $13.44 per hour.
Rep. Jim Beckett, R-Bruce, said his brother used to work at United Chair.
“The company has been in Bruce for a long time,” Beckett said. “They are good folks to work for, and this is good for the area.”
Bobby Harrison/Daily Journal