ARI Breaks Ground on New Facility in Marmaduke

MARMADUKE, AR--Here we grow again. They are already one of the largest employers in Greene County, but Wednesday American Railcar announced plans to become an even bigger part of the economy in the area.

ARI is investing 51 million dollars in Greene County that will mean more than 300 new jobs for Region 8.

Governor Mike Beebe attended Wednesday's big announcement and says the reason for the expansion is simple.

"They say it is the best workforce they have seen in the country. They are very proud of their workers and that is why they are expanding here," said Beebe.

Wednesday ARI broke ground on an expansion in Marmaduke that will double the size of the plant and account for 270 of those jobs. The other jobs will result from an expansion in Paragould. That plant will begin building the axles used on the railcars. Marmaduke's mayor Byron Phillips says the expansions are a big boost for the area.

"They have seen something in Marmaduke they like. They are willing to grow here. They are willing to spend time here to make sure things are working correctly and they want Marmaduke to do good," said Phillips.

He feels ARI's good neighbor attitude has been a key to the rebuilding effort in Marmaduke following the tornado.

"We didn't have to hunt them up. They came looking for us saying what can we do," said Phillips.

With a number of manufacturing jobs leaving the U.S. for cheaper wages elsewhere, Wednesday's announcement was about more than just 300 jobs. It means American Railcar will remain American made.

"All their competitors are going to Mexico so we are really proud ARI isn't doing that," said Beebe.

"I'm not going to lie to you; we did look at going overseas. We did look at going to Mexico with these announcements here, but when you put the pieces together and we decided the best place for us as a corporation was here in Greene County," said ARI Chief Operating Officer Jim Cowan.

The axle plant expansion in Paragould will be the first one built in the U.S. in over 45 years.