Wheels of progress

Spartech commits

based on training

Spartech Corp. wheeled its multinational, $1 billion business into Tupelo/Lee County and Northeast Mississippi Wednesday when it announced a $3 million investment and 50 jobs within a year.

The company manufactures plastic products for specialized uses like NASCAR racing equipment, Cessna aircraft windows, Chrysler PT Cruiser components and wheels - in the case of the Tupelo plant, wheels for lawnmowers manufactured by MTD. MTD is a 900-employee plant that was a magnet for Spartech to move from Missouri. Spartech employs 4,000 at plants in North America and Europe.

The link with MTD means wheels can be made and delivered daily to the Verona lawnmower plant. It's expected the 54,000 square foot Spartech operation will make 6 million to 10 million wheels per year.

Spartech is a high-tech industry. Robotics and automation are standard in its process, but the company has built in growth capacity for its Tupelo location.

Spartech, MTD and Community Development Foundation officials all praised training for employees available in Tupelo at the Advanced Education Center, which houses programs offered by the University of Mississippi (the sponsoring institution), Itawamba Community College and Mississippi University for Women.

Our region's growth prospects rest on selling education and training linked to location and infrastructure. Those elements came together in a deal announced Wednesday.

The same formula can work over and over in any shapes and sizes if what Tupelo, Lee County and Northeast Mississippi offer is made to order.

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