OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Texas-based Tiger Truck LLC made it official on Monday—it will locate a new assembly plant in Poteau, creating 300 jobs in eastern Oklahoma over a four-year period.
The announcement was made during a ceremony in Poteau by Michael S. Ward, founder and chief executive of the company, and Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry.
Poteau is in LeFlore County, about 25 miles southwest of Fort Smith, Ark.
The 112,000-square-foot plant will be built to assemble off-road vehicles designed by ChangAnAutomobile Group, the third largest vehicle manufacturer in China. The main market for the equipment will be Mexico and South America.
Ward said the plant will create payroll of $3 million to $5 million by the end of the first year. Salaries will average $30,000 a year.
Tiger truck is headquartered in Dallas. It was established in 1999 and is a privately held international venture with distribution outlets in the United States, Central America and the Caribbean basin.
The company had planned to locate the assembly plant elsewhere but ''the forces in Oklahoma were not to be denied,'' Ward said.
''They quickly mobilized to meet our needs in such a way that little time has been lost from our aggressive schedule. We anticipate making initial production deliveries from this site by the end of the first quarter of 2008.''
The first Champ 4500 vehicle to be constructed in Poteau is scheduled to roll off the assembly line in September.
The off-road vehicle can travel up to 25 miles per hour and is used for everything from highway construction to golf course maintenance to security on college campuses, said spokeswoman Peggy Striegel.
The vehicle is about the size of a familiar ¼-ton pickup, but can carry a load of a ton and a half.
''Tiger Truck's announcement is great news for Poteau and all of eastern Oklahoma,'' Henry said. ''The assembly plant means up to 300 good-paying jobs and an economic boost for the region, while Tiger Truck reaps the benefits of Oklahoma's highly skilled and dedicated work force.''
A rail spur will be built by A-OK Railroad in conjunction with the City of Poteau to meet the plant's needs.
Mayor Jeff Shockley said Tiger also will receive accelerated depreciation benefits on the building and equipment because it sits on former Indian tribal land.
Other city and state tax incentives were involved in bringing the plant to Poteau, including the state's Quality Jobs program.
''We have invested a great deal of time and money in this project and know that it will return every penny and more,'' Shockley said. ''The whole town is excited and we know Tiger Truck will bring additional support industries with it.''