By CARL SMITH
Local economic development agents and business representatives are working to finalize turn-key funding sources which would help support more than 60 new furniture manufacturing jobs in Maben.
Plans are in the works for the Maben-based Main Street Forest Products to partner with a secondary company, Main Street Casual Living, to produce upholstered furniture products in Maben, MSFP operations manager Bob Klimek said. Plans call for the creation of roughly 62 new jobs within two phases in the coming months, he said, and approximately seven to 10 jobs could develop within MSFP itself.
Klimek said the company has already received close to 500 job applications for the expansion.
On Monday, Klimek,approached the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors in regard to a tax abatement request for the new project. Board Attorney Jack Brown was absent from the meeting, and supervisors decided to take the matter under consideration. A tax abatement would waive ad valorem requirements but not school levies. Board President Marvell Howard said the board could grant a five-year abatement, review the agreement after it expires and then choose to grant another waiver if deemed beneficial to the county.
“This is exciting news and a wonderful opportunity for the town of Maben and the people all around the area. It’s great for the entire county when you can bring jobs in, and it’s a good sign for the local economy,” Howard said. “We will take up the tax abatement in the next board meeting, and I don’t foresee going forward with it being a problem. Moves like this offer the board of supervisors a hand in economic development, and I think the board should take more of a lead role in the economic development process.”
Oktibbeha County Economic Development Agency President Jack Wallace confirmed his organization pledged $53,000 toward a development package to assist in job expansion.
“If you look at what it costs to get jobs in our community, it’s nothing to furnish that money,” Wallace said. “(OCEDA members) discussed it and had a unanimous vote to move forward. We were glad to do it and glad to help move this project along.”
Plans are also in the works to secure funding from state development sources to improve an access road in Maben’s industrial area in lieu of extra heavy-traffic shipping, Maben Mayor Larry Pruitt said. A timetable for road repair work was not immediately available.
“We’re definitely working on it. I guess we’re in a waiting situation where I’m just waiting to see the first furniture roll off the line. I want to be there when the first piece is inspected and ready to ship. We, as a community, definitely want that day,” Pruitt said.