OUR OPINION: Plantersville plant a ‘big impact’ decision

New jobs usually are most appreciated in communities struggling to retain or regain economic strength. Plantersville, one of Lee County’s nine municipalities, gained the commitment of 100 new jobs Tuesday (and a chance for more) with the formal announcement that Posturecraft Mattress Company will locate its bedding manufacturing operations on Cedar Street near the southern city limits.

The building is a former mattress factory in which Posturecraft will invest $3 million.

In April, Posturecraft’s facility in Alabama was destroyed by fire caused by lightning. The company has local customers, as well as more than 600 accounts nationwide.

Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, said work on prepping the building has started and production could start by Jan. 1, 2014.

Holland said he received an initial call from a friend in Alabama who told him that the firm’s owner had lost a plant in Double Springs, Ala., in a fire, and was interested in relocating to Mississippi. Holland made a call in response.

“Then, I basically turned it over to the mayor (Plantersville Mayor Gloria Holland, his wife), CDF and the Mississippi Development Authority,” he said Tuesday afternoon.

Owner Charles Jones made the decision.

Gov. Phil Bryant’s office made the official announcement Tuesday morning, as is customary when state assistance is involved.

“I am grateful to Mr. Jones for selecting a Mississippi location to restart his bedding manufacturing operations and provide new job opportunities for the area’s workers,” Bryant said.

Holland said Plantersville has not had an economic development announcement of such magnitude for “25 to 30 years. This is huge.”

Plantersville has a population of about 1,150 and an incorporated area of less than two square miles.

The Mississippi Development Authority provided $100,000 for facility improvements and a $50,000 workforce-training grant in support of the project.

The new jobs provide encouraging, substantive news in the shadow of the possible loss of 1,400 Lane Furniture Industries jobs at its Lee County facilities. Lane’s parent company, Furniture Brands International, has filed for bankruptcy protection and is restructuring, but Lane’s future is not clearly defined.

“We welcome Posturecraft to Mississippi and appreciate the company for investing in our state and creating new jobs for the residents of Lee County,” said MDA Executive Director Brent Christensen in a statement from he governor’s office.

The mantra “every job is important” becomes more convincing in the face of adversity.