As part of its approximately $3 million investment, the company will upgrade equipment at the former Hickory Springs Manufacturing Co. facility at 4921 State Line Road. Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce President Tim Allen said the company is expected to add the jobs over two to three years.
“We’re thrilled to have Elite expanding here,” Allen said. “It’s always cool to recruit new companies and offer incentives to be proactive in bringing new companies to town. We do that, but growing existing companies is a priority.”
Arkansas Economic Development Commission spokesman Scott Hardin said the state will provide incentives to aid the expansion efforts. Elite Comfort Solutions will receive sales-tax refunds on materials, machinery and equipment used as part of the expansion and an income-tax credit based on one percent of payroll for new jobs created.
Elite Comfort Solutions is owned by Arsenal Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in New York. Arsenal Capital Partners bought a majority stake in Elite Foam Inc. in March and, as part of that agreement, purchased production assets of Hickory Springs Manufacturing, a North Carolina-based company.
Hickory Springs Foam, now Elite Comfort Solutions, operates in Mississippi, California and Georgia, in addition to Arkansas and North Carolina. Representatives of Arsenal Capital Partners could not be reached.
Allen said Fort Smith’s location on the Arkansas River and near Interstates 40 and 49 is appealing to manufacturers.
“Any state and community can offer incentives, but we offer proximity to river, rail and interstate that makes a difference for manufacturers,” Allen said. “It’s easier to get their finished products out and also get materials to their facilities from Fort Smith.”
Fort Smith has added 5,000 jobs and and attracted more than $600 million in capital investment since 2012, Allen said. It has announced hundreds of additional jobs this year, though Allen did not have an exact total.
Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders said the addition of jobs through Elite Comfort Solutions is satisfying because the business has been in town since “at least the 1960s.”
“It’s always extremely good news when companies that are already here are able to use the resources of Fort Smith and the people of Fort Smith to grow,” Sanders said.
Unemployment for the Fort Smith metro area, which reaches into parts of Oklahoma, was at 4.6 percent, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers for August. Unemployment in Arkansas was at 3.9 percent in August, according to those statistics.
Business on 10/26/2016