November 3, 2005--Posted at 5:15 p.m. CDT
OSCEOLA, AR--It was a meshing of cultures today in Osceola as the Far East and Northeastern Arkansas came together the grand opening of the new DENSO automotive manufacturing plant. It was an event complete with local music, a Japanese sake barrel breaking ceremony and a visit from the governor.
"It's the biggest economic event in Osceola in many many years," said Dickie Kennemore, Mayor of Osceola.
A couple years ago this patch of land in Osceola produced cotton but now they are cranking out high quality automotive parts.
"We believe that our facility can be very competitive in the coming 10 years," said Mitsuo Matsushita of North American DENSO Group.
The plant will manufacture heating ventilation and air condition units plus radiators for use by Honda, Toyota and Caterpillar.
"In the next few years we are looking at 70,000 radiators and 1.5 million h-vac units per year," said DENSO Manufacturing Arkansas President Jerry McGuire.
DENSO already has 360 employees in Osceola and expects to raise that number to 500 by 2008. Adding jobs to an area that needed them badly.
"We have lost about 2500 jobs in the last 4 or 5 years in plant closures so this facility helps us turn it around," said Kennemore.
DENSO which does over 26 billion dollars in business a year invested more than 36 million dollars in the complex at Osceola, money that they think will pay off in the long run.
"From a logistics and strategic point it is a very key operation to the overall thermal image to how we are going to manage the North American United States," said McGuire.
DENSO selected Mississippi County because of the proximity it gives them to their customer across the nation in addition to the availability of a skilled workforce here in the area.
"We are excited being here this is a new day going into 2015," said Matsushita.
With the addition of DENSO plus the potential of more industry attracted by the automobile manufacturing business, the future is bright for Osceola.
"Could grow this industrial complex here to 3000 to 4000 employees in the next 6 to 8 years," said Kennemore.