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12 11, 2012 by The Town Talk
A hundred jobs might not cause a ripple in some markets.
But in the small town of Jena, Mayor Murphy McMillin said, it's "gigantic."
"It would be extremely hard to wipe the smile off my face right now," McMillin said at the announcement Monday that Universal Plant Services will be the first tenant at Jena's industrial park.
UPS -- which provides machining services for heavy industry such as oil refineries and chemical and power plants -- is building a 15,000-square-foot facility that will employ 95 people at an average salary of $73,000 a year.
"This is exactly the kind of company you would hope moves into your region," said Jim Clinton, president of Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. "They are smart, they are growing, they are profitable and they are visionary. This is a great company. They're going to be a great corporate citizen and they're bringing some great jobs here."
Based in Deer Park, Texas, UPS facilities are mostly located in that state and the west coast, though there is one in Baton Rouge.
The Jena facility will service large compressors and engines used in pipelines and restore them to like-new condition, UPS Chief Operating Officer Reagan Busbee said.
"When we make a decision where to go next, we make that decision carefully," Busbee said. "We feel like here in Jena, we've done exactly that."
"These jobs could have gone someplace else," Gov. Bobby Jindal said. "I'm thrilled they recognized that Jena, La., was the best place to invest. I can't think of a better Christmas gift for Central Louisiana and Jena, in particular."
The industrial park sits on 30 acres just off Louisiana Highway 8, across Hangar Road from Jena Airport. LaSalle Economic Development District bought the land about a year ago.
UPS purchased 10 acres, which Busbee said will give the facility plenty of room to grow.
In addition to the 95 direct jobs, Louisiana Economic Development estimates the facility will create 121 indirect jobs.
"This a great day for the town of Jena, LaSalle Parish and Central Louisiana," McMillin said.
As he has in the past, Jindal sold the new jobs as a win in the effort to keep Louisianans in Louisiana, rather than sending them out of state to find jobs.
"These are exactly the kind of jobs we want our sons and daughters to have," he said. "This is why it's so important we make job creation and economic development our No. 1 priority."
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