Economic Growth Continues For Marion - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Marion, AR--Lauren Payne Reports

Economic Growth Continues For Marion

August 4, 2004--Posted at 6:25 p.m. CDT

MARION --Electricity producers, the Southern Company, opened a new rail inspection station in Marion on Monday.

The facility is built on the main Burlington Northern Sante Fe rail line.

Greg Sparks is the managing director for Southern Company.

"It takes our cars from Georgia where we have a facility there that burns coal, all the way to Wyoming.

The Powder River basin area where we get our coal. It makes round trip roughly 90 trains a month,"said Sparks.

This rail facility provides preventative maintenance on the railcars such as replacing wheels, and performing routine checks ensuring federal safety guidelines are met.

"It's an economical choice for us to do it ourselves. We have the ability to catch these problems before they become issues and are caught by the railroad,"said Sparks.

Sparks says Marion has major area for several railroads to serve the Mid South and Southeast.

"You've got a U.P....Union Pacific Mainline. Then you've got Norfolk Southern, and Illinois Southern that are in Memphis that connect up with these rail lines.

Construction on the new facility began in the summer of 2003, and now that it has been completed it's expected to bring in nearly 50 new jobs to Marion's community.

"Salaries will vary based on skills....trained and untrained that they have,"said Sparks.

"Then I'm working with the state too, and they are trying to get me to hire people without any experience and we'll work with them too,"said plant manager Coy Womble.

The new rail facility is also expected to bring in an additional 50,000 dollars in tax revenue as well.

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