Welspun Opening First U.S. Plant

Indian pipe manufacturer investing $100 million in Little Rock, Ark., plant; will bring 300 jobs.

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Officials for an India-based manufacturer that makes pipes for oil and gas companies say Little Rock's environment, location and friend residents made the capital city a top choice.

Welspun Gujarat Stahl Rohren Ltd. will build its first North American pipe plant in Little Rock, a $100 million investment that will initially employ 300 workers, officials announced Saturday.

''The city of Little Rock provided the most conducive environment that a company like us desired,'' said B.K. Goenka, vice chairman and managing director for Welspun. ''We look forward to a long and prosperous future.''

The company said the plant will be built next to the Little Rock Port Authority. Once completed, it is expected to be capable of producing 300,000 net tons of tubular steel pipes annually.

Company officials held a groundbreaking and blessing ceremony at the site before Saturday's announcement.

The plant is the largest single industrial investment in Little Rock, officials said.

''This facility is going to contribute in changing the landscape of all of Little Rock,'' Goenka said.

Welspun has a presence in more than 50 countries, he said.

Welspun, which also has manufacturing plants in Dahej and Anjar in Gujarat, India, makes both pipes and home textiles, such as towels and bath robes. The Little Rock plant will only make pipe, some of which will be used by oil companies drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Goenka said.

Welspun supplies pipes for many major oil companies, including ExxonMobil, Shell and Chevron, Goenka said.

Gov. Mike Beebe praised cooperation among state economic development officials, local business leaders and city and county leaders.

''I can't overemphasize the significance and importance of the talent pool that exists in this community'' to attract new businesses and industries, Beebe said.

Earlier this month, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission approved a $5 million guarantee on an industrial development bond for a Welspun plant. The plant, which will be built on a 740-acre site near the Arkansas River, is expected to begin production in spring 2008.


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