India-based pipe maker cancels $100-million plant in Arkansas

An India-based pipe manufacturer is no longer planning to open a $100-million plant along the Arkansas River in Little Rock, prompting the city to buy back the land for $2.2 million.

Man Industries Ltd. is no longer moving forward with its proposed plant, which officials last year said would create more than 250 new jobs, Arkansas Economic Development Commission spokesman Scott Hardin said Tuesday.

”Right now, it’s our understanding that Man is not proceeding with their U.S. manufacturing facility,” Hardin said.

Little Rock Port Authority officials said the project fell through due to a lack of financing for the plant. ”The credit markets cratered about the time they started,” said Paul Latture, executive director of the authority.

The company had announced the plant last year, which officials said would be able to produce 300,000 tons of pipes to be used primarily for the petroleum industry. The state had promised the firm $3.5 million in incentives, but no money had ever been handed over, Hardin said.

The Little Rock Board of Directors approved a proposal this week by the Little Rock Port Authority to buy the 155 acres intended for the plant for $2.2 million.

The state incentives offered to the plant came from Gov. Mike Beebe’s ”quick action closing fund,” used to attract new businesses to the state. Beebe last year had said the starting salary for workers at the plant would be close to $12 an hour.

eebe spokesman Matt DeCample said the governor’s office had heard about problems with starting the project for months, but did not get final word from the economic development commission until Tuesday. DeCample said the governor was disappointed that the plant was not moving forward.