TOP 10 of 2018: Unified Brands brings $9.5M investment, jobs to community
Published 6:00 pm Saturday, December 29, 2018
Editor’s Note: This is the No. 2 story in The Vicksburg Post’s Top 10 stories of 2018.
Perhaps the biggest local economic news of 2018 was the announcement in August of Unified Brands relocating to the Ceres Industrial Complex and creating 425 jobs in the process.
During an August press conference announcing the $9.5 million investment in Warren County, Pablo Diaz, president and CEO of the Vicksburg Warren Economic Development Partnership, said the decision by Unified Brands to select Warren County to consolidate its operations and create jobs is exciting news for the area.
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“Our economic development team worked tirelessly and closely with the Mississippi Development Authority to win this project for Mississippi and for Vicksburg and Warren County,” Diaz said. “We look forward to supporting Unified Brands as they ramp up and grow in our community.”
Unified Brands, a commercial equipment manufacturer, will consolidate three of its company locations to the former Simpson Duravent Building located on 88 Armory Road with plans to be fully operational by January 2019. It represents the largest manufacturing job creation project in Warren County in the last 15 years.
“Mississippians are hard workers who take pride in a job well done, as evidenced by Unified Brands’ decision to grow its operations in our state and create hundreds of new jobs in Warren County,” Gov. Phil Bryant said in a statement prior to the August announcement. “Vicksburg has enjoyed recent economic growth, and this exciting announcement continues that momentum.”
Unified Brands, a Division of Dover Corporation, is considered a leader in professional food equipment design, manufacturing and service products, including cooking equipment, refrigeration systems, ventilation/utility distribution systems, meal delivery systems and more. The publicly held company has annual revenues of approximately $7 billion.
By transferring work to Warren County from company locations in Oklahoma, Michigan and Byram, Unified Brands also plans new product launches.
“We’re looking forward to the expansion to Vicksburg,” Dave Herring, president of Unified Brands, said. “This facility will enable us to improve the work environment for our employees, increase operational efficiencies and provide a foundation for long-term growth.”
Attracting Unified Brands to Warren County didn’t come without some controversy. A matching grant with MDA was required and city officials ponied up the $300,000 for Unified Brands, as well as Vicksburg Forest Products, which bought the Anderson-Tully sawmill and saved 125 jobs.
Mayor George Flaggs Jr., asked the Warren County Board of Supervisors to reimburse the city half of the matching funds, but the supervisors have balked and claim the county is contributing through tax breaks and incentives.