By Ed Felton
from the July/August 2015 issue
Gov. Jay Nixon recently joined local leaders and company executives from Ohio-based Owens Corning to announce the company’s plan to open a manufacturing facility in Joplin. The nearly $90-million project is expected to create more than 100 jobs.
“This announcement is terrific news for families in the region that will benefit from these new jobs,” Gov. Nixon said. “Owens Corning’s decision is a testament to our strong manufacturing sector, which has seen tremendous growth over the past few years. While some states are losing manufacturers to other countries, we are attracting new companies and selling more Missouri-made products around the globe.”
Owens Corning, a global manufacturer of insulation, roofing and fiberglass composites, employs 15,000 people in 26 countries and posted net sales of $5.3 billion in 2014. The company has many facilities in the U.S. The new Joplin facility will manufacture Thermafiber® mineral wool insulation for commercial, residential and industrial applications. Thermafiber is a mineral wool that resists fire and temperatures exceeding 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and provides sound control and energy efficiency in commercial, residential, and industrial applications. The Joplin facility will support the company’s growth opportunities in the North American construction markets.
“As a company that only operates in markets with attractive long-term macro drivers such as global industrial production, material substitution, U.S. housing, and energy efficiency, our decision to locate in Joplin says a lot about the region and the state. Our new location puts us close to attractive markets and accessible raw materials, a decision we believe will result in higher productivity and an increase in efficiency,” said Julian Francis, President of Owens Corning Insulation. “We will both benefit from Missouri’s reputable workforce. As demand for mineral wool increases, we will need many hands on deck to fulfill orders and we are eager to tap into the state’s talent.”
“We greatly appreciate the faith and confidence the Owens Corning team has shown in making this community the location for this new operation,” said Joplin Mayor Mike Seibert. “This facility adds momentum to the already strong manufacturing base in our region.”
Owens Corning will move into a 303,000 square-foot facility and invest nearly $90 million to purchase and install equipment at the site. The company expects the facility to be fully operational in 2016. In 2014, the majority of the company’s insulation revenue was derived from customers in Canada and the U.S. for new residential construction, residential repair and remodeling, and commercial and industrial buildings.
Over the years, construction in Missouri has been rebounding. Since reaching a low point in 2011, the industry has gained 11,600 jobs, an 11.5 percent increase. Construction employment for May 2015 stood at 112,900. Building permits have also steadily increased since 2011 with 45 percent more housing units authorized in 2014.
“Our county has benefitted from a long manufacturing history at this location,” said County Commissioner Darius Adams. “Owens Corning’s decision to locate in this building not only breathes life back into a once vacant building, but it goes beyond with its substantial capital investment and creation of high-quality manufacturing jobs for the area.”
Owens Corning adds to Missouri’s growing manufacturing sector, which saw the largest annual increase since 1995 by adding 9,900 jobs in 2014. The Owens Corning project is also the fourth Joplin expansion announced by Gov. Nixon in recent months. In March, EaglePicher, a leading producer of batteries and energy devices, announced its plans to build a new 100,000 square-foot facility and create 171 new jobs. In February, longstanding Missouri-company Leggett & Platt signed a lease on a 42,000 square-foot building, home of its first facility in Joplin that is expected to create 25 new jobs. Cook Portable Warehouses in January announced its decision to open its first Missouri manufacturing plant in Joplin and create 80 new jobs in the area.
“While the Chamber is the lead, it takes team work to bring great economic development projects such as this one to reality,” said Rob O’Brian, President of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. “Three local governments, the regional planning organization, Empire District Electric, the Carl Junction schools, the state of Missouri, the owner of this facility and other property owners in the area as well as so many others worked diligently with the Owens Corning team to make this day happen.”
To assist Owens Corning with its expansion, the Missouri Department of Economic Development has offered a strategic economic incentive package that the company can receive if it meets strict job creation and investment criteria. The City of Joplin, the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, Carl Junction School District, Jasper County, and the Missouri Partnership also are assisting with the company’s expansion.