Picayune has a new industry

Published 1:38 pm Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A new building is getting its finishing touches in Picayune’s Industrial Park as it prepares to fulfill a five-year contract of providing water and fuel tanks to the U.S. Army.

The facility is to be occupied by Applied Geo Technologies which will produce 210,000-gallon fabric fuel tanks in Picayune, according to an AGT press release. AGT employs 365 employees nationwide, 350 of those employees are Mississippi residents and 100 of those employees work at a Stennis Space Center facility, said Candace McKay, AGT Corporate Communications manager.

AGT Director of Operations Jeff Anthony said the Picayune facility will eventually employ about 50 people, at least a third of which will come from the Picayune area. Positions will include management, support staff, manufacturing and testing.

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The large tanks will be made through a subcontract partnership with Avon Engineered Fabrics, another industry already operating in the Picayune Industrial Park, Anthony said. In November, AGT plans to begin operations and hire between eight to 10 people. By March or April 2009, the facility will be in full production with the full staff of about 50 employees who will produce on average one fuel tank per day.

Tanks will be produced from a flexible material provided by Avon that will be welded together with special equipment at AGT’s Picayune facility. After the tanks are constructed, they will undergo a number of tests where they are filled with air, and then diesel fuel, to look for leaks. Once those on-site tests are conducted, the tanks will be sent to another facility to be tested further before delivery to the Army, Anthony said.

Each flexible tank will stand about 40 feet tall when full, have a footprint of 75 feet by 75 feet and could alternately be used to store water should the need arise. The primary use of the tanks will be to store fuel for U.S. Army tanks and other vehicles.

A five-year contract, awarded in August, will keep the company in business, Anthony said. Each day the facility will have the capability of constructing one tank, on average 20 per month. More could be built should the need arise.

“I’m overly excited about their presence here. Especially about what they can do for the City of Picayune,” said city council member Leavern Guy.

The new facility will cost $7 million dollars to construct, including a still unfinished rail spur. Funding for the rail spur was acquired with help from Partners For Pearl River County through a grant, said Ron Fine Partners For Pearl River County executive director.

Community involvement will be an important aspect of AGT as the company conducts its everyday business. Scholarships and support for local groups and organizations, such as the Pearl River County Robotics Club, are already planned. ReflecTech Vice president Larry Williamson said AGT recently helped the Picayune Memorial High School track team get new uniforms. All the team had to do was help AGT spread out a liner at the AGT testing facility. That liner will be used to ensure there are no mishaps when the tested tanks hold thousands of gallons of diesel fuel. Anthony said in the off chance there is a tank leak, the liner will catch it.

For the track team’s help in spreading out that liner, AGT purchased new uniforms, about $3,000 worth, for the team, Williamson said.

There are and will be job opportunities at AGT area residents. For more information on those opportunities, interested parties can visit http://www.appliedgeotech.com/careers.htm. Alternately, Anthony said a stop by the office located at 113 Street A can provide more information once the office is opened.