Ark. Unilever Plant To Expand, Add 125 Jobs

The company will spend $40 million to expand the facility, thanks in part to payroll rebates and a state tax credit.

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) -- Unilever PLC announced Tuesday that it will hire an additional 125 workers at its Jonesboro hair-care products plant and spend $40 million to expand the facility.

The $64 million factory was built by Alberto Culver and opened in 2008, employing 400 people when it became fully staffed. Last year, Unilever bought Alberto Culver in a $3.7 billion deal.

Unilever produces numerous product lines at the plant, including TRESemmé, Nexxus, Motions and St. Ives.

The company received state incentives for the expansion, including a cash rebate equal to 3.9 percent of new payroll for 10 years and a sales and use tax credit that's based upon the cost of the project.

When the plant was being built, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission awarded a $1.5 million grant for infrastructure improvements. The company also worked out an agreement with Jonesboro, Craighead County and the local utility for additional work that the company valued at $2.5 million.

"The state of Arkansas has been a great business partner and we look forward to a successful future here as we embark on this exciting new journey," said Jonesboro plant supply leader Robb Vrbicek.

Gov. Mike Beebe and other dignitaries were on hand for the announcement at Craighead Technology Park, where the plant is located.

"Unilever's decision to expand in Jonesboro less than one year after acquiring this plant shows the confidence that Jonesboro's workforce inspires in companies," Beebe said. "I met with Unilever's leadership team during our 2009 trade mission to Europe, and I'm glad that they've decided to further invest in Arkansas for the future."

Beebe said he discussed Unilever's Skippy peanut butter plant in Little Rock during the meeting and touted other opportunities for the company in Arkansas.

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