Saint-Gobain to invest $100 million in Bauxite
On Tuesday, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe held a meeting at the Bauxite Community Center that Saint-Gobain, a French Company, will invest in a $100 million facility in Bauxite that will create 140 jobs in Saline County.
Saint-Gobain already has a facility in Bauxite that supplies material for its ceramic manufacturing process. The products at issue are called proppants — small, spherical ceramic beads used in natural gas fracture mining. The main component in proppants is bauxite, which is available in abundance in Saline County.
Why is the announcement significant? Frankly, Saline County needs more jobs. The population in the county topped 100,000 people last year, yet the Benton Chamber of Commerce estimates that over 60 percent of the workers hold down jobs outside of Saline County.
There was a time, of course, when the abundant bauxite deposits in the county was critical to the area economy. Alcoa and Reynolds were the major employers for years as the rich deposits of bauxite were used to manufacture aluminum. The Saline County aluminum industry arguably peaked during World War II as the metal was in high demand for war machinery. Alcoa and Reynolds remained the dominant employers in the county until they started mining and processing bauxite overseas to take advantage of less expensive labor costs.
The Saint-Gobain announcement was a major one, then, and here’s hoping there’s more job creation in the county. The 100,000-square-foot Saint-Gobain facility is expected to open by the end of 2012.
You can read the news release from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission about the announcement here.
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.