This press release comes from the Area Development Partnership
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Kohler Company, one of America’s oldest and largest privately held companies, announced plans to consolidate its North American gasoline engine manufacturing operations from a facility in Wisconsin to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where the company has had a presence since 1998. KOHLER Engines will lease an additional 300,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space in a Class A industrial building owned by Bulk Industrial Group out of Kansas. The facility is located along Runnels Industrial Drive in the Forrest County Industrial Park. KOHLER Engines currently leases space in the same building for warehousing and operates a large manufacturing plant in another nearby facility on J.M. Tatum Industrial Drive.
KOHLER Engines was initially recruited to Hattiesburg more than 20 years ago, where it has manufactured gasoline engines primarily for residential lawn mowers. With the new facility being developed, the company anticipates creating 250 full-time jobs, which will position KOHLER Engines as the second largest manufacturing employer in Greater Hattiesburg.
“KOHLER Engines is proud of our 20-year relationship in Hattiesburg, and we appreciate the support of the community and the state of Mississippi. This consolidation to our plant in Hattiesburg will help us serve our customers better by giving them a single source for all of our twin-cylinder gasoline engines. Our business continues to grow, and this development makes our operation even stronger and more capable of delighting our customers in the future,” said Brian Melka, president of KOHLER Engines.
“Kohler has been a cornerstone of Hattiesburg’s industrial base for a long time,” said Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker. “I am proud that we were able to work with the Kohler team to move
forward with this expansion and further enhance our position as an economic engine in the Gulf South.”
David Hogan, President of the Forrest County Board of Supervisors said, “The Forrest County Industrial Park Commission, in partnership with Mississippi Power Company, developed KOHLER Engines’ existing building in the 1990s with the intention of attracting a global manufacturer just like Kohler Company. That investment has now proven even more fruitful with the announcement of this new engine manufacturing plant. We couldn’t be happier.”
Officials at the Area Development Partnership (ADP) have worked with KOHLER Engines, the City of Hattiesburg, Forrest County, Mississippi Power Company, Pearl River Community College, and the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) throughout this significant recruitment process. MDA has agreed to provide assistance for equipment relocation, workforce training, and statutory tax incentives. Local units of government have committed to abating non-educational ad valorem taxes for the first 10 years of operation, granting a 10-year freeport warehouse exemption, and have committed to making public infrastructure improvements associated with the roadway to the facility.
“The state of Mississippi values its partnership with Kohler, whose employees in Hattiesburg take pride in quality craftsmanship, enabling the company to achieve its goals in Forrest County,” said MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. “We salute the teamwork of our partners at the Area Development Partnership, the City of Hattiesburg, and Forrest County, which, along with the MDA team, was instrumental in bringing hundreds of new career opportunities to the people of Hattiesburg.”
Chad Driskell, Chairman of the Board for the ADP, said, “The ADP serves Greater Hattiesburg through its business recruitment, retention and expansion efforts. Kohler initially invested here 20 years ago and today the company has selected our region for another significant investment. Their decision speaks volumes about the company’s confidence in our workforce and pro-business operating environment. KOHLER Engines will soon employ hundreds of additional citizens in Greater Hattiesburg thanks to the hard work of our public and private partners.”
KOHLER Engines will invest more than $15 million in moving and upgrading equipment and retrofitting the space. The expansion is slated to take place over the next 12 months. KOHLER Engines expects to fill the 250 new jobs over the course of the next three years as the company ramps up production at the new facility.
For anyone interested in these new employment opportunities, KOHLER Engines will be hosting a job fair at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 19, 2019. The company heavily prefers the Pinebelt Works Basic Manufacturing Skills Certification, which can be obtained through Pearl River Community College (PRCC). Those interested in obtaining this certification can learn more by contacting PRCC’s Community and Economic Development Coordinator Rebecca Brown at 601-554-4644, or at prcc.edu/pinebeltworks.