Masonry firm CalStar says it will create 58 jobs at new plant in Columbus

  • Updated: July 2, 2013 - 6:15 PM

COLUMBUS, Miss. — A Wisconsin-based masonry firm will open a second plant in Columbus, with plans to hire 58 employees over three years.

CalStar Products said Tuesday that it reached agreements June 3 with local and state officials to set up its second factory. The company, based in Caledonia, Wis., plans to open in early 2014, hiring 17 employees immediately.

"We're thrilled to call Columbus our new second home," CalStar CEO Joel Rood said in a statement.

Lowndes County will borrow $5.35 million from the Mississippi Development Authority to buy a 100,000 square-foot unfinished building in the Golden Triangle Industrial Park from industrial developer Agracel for $2.85 million. Agracel built on the 23.4-acre site in a partnership with economic development agency Golden Triangle Link, seeking to attract a new company.

The county will use the rest of the money to complete the building and then lease it to CalStar. Joe Max Higgins, CEO of Golden Triangle Link, said in April that the company could eventually create 100 jobs, although it will only be required to create 58. MDA said CalStar would invest $8 million of its own money.

The state will use $1.25 million in federal community development grants to improve infrastructure, while the Lowndes County Development Authority will pay to extend water and sewer lines, MDA spokeswoman Tammy Craft said. The county also granted a 10-year property tax exemption.

The company makes bricks, pavers, and other masonry products using recycled content and without kiln firing or the need for traditional mortar. The process uses less energy and emits less carbon dioxide, allowing CalStar to market its products as environmentally friendly.

Michael Telischak, the company's vice president for manufacturing, said the Mississippi location would allow the company to reduce freight costs to serve Southern customers, as well as meet growing demand.

"This means quicker turnaround times on orders and reduced freight costs, further contributing to our products' existing economic advantages versus traditional masonry," Telischak said in a statement.

The company said it also added a second shift at its Caledonia plant in May.

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