United Furniture Adding 100 Jobs In Mississippi

OKOLONA, Miss. (AP) -- United Furniture Industries officials say the company will add 100 new jobs at its Okolona manufacturing facility, bringing much needed work to an area where the unemployment rate is in double digits.

Doug Hanby, the company's chief financial officer, told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal Monday that the company will use nearly $1.3 million in grants to fix the roof and sprinkler system in its 575,000-square-foot Futorian Building.

The building makes up most of United Furniture's space. The Okolona operations total about 650,000 square feet.

Helping with the grants and expansion were the Mississippi Development Authority, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Three Rivers Planning and Development District, Chickasaw County and the city of Okolona.

"The grant moneys we received will enable needed improvements to this facility and we are excited about this opportunity to expand our business and create new jobs in the Chickasaw County area," Hanby said.

MDA provided $1.1 million in Community Development Block Grant funding and the Appalachian Regional Commission kicked in $190,000.

Okolona was approved for the Community Development Block Grant in August and had to complete environmental requirements before officially getting the grant.

"It is with great pride that I thank United Furniture for choosing to expand right here in Okolona," Mayor Louise Cole said in statement. "United Furniture has been an asset to our community for years, and the creation of these new jobs will benefit many individuals and their families in our area."

Chickasaw County's unemployment rate in August was 13 percent.

United, which makes upholstered stationary and motion sofas and recliners, employs about 1,400 workers at its operations in Okolona, Amory and Hatley. The company also has North Carolina facilities in Archdale and High Point.

Hanby said hiring of the 100 workers already has begun, but work on the Futorian Building will start later.

"We're working on the engineering design now and hope to have the bids advertised soon," he said.

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