Written by Benita Fuzzell Fulton Leader News
What was described as a “marathon beginning last Spring” by Fulton County-Hickman County Economic Development Partnership Executive Director Wendy Puckett, reached the finish line Tuesday morning, with the announcement of the expansion of one Fulton industry, and the return of another to Graves County.
The announcement was made jointly by Fulton County and Graves County economic development leadership at Fulton’s Pontotoc Community Center, where a large crowed gathered to receive the official word Kayser Automotive Systems USA, LP would be expanding and ultimately acquiring the space in Fulton’s Industrial Park having been used by MVP Group, International.
MVP Group, International, will be relocating their facility to Mayfield.
Puckett first thanked a number of individuals, boards and partnerships, including Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, for helping “make Kentucky more competitive and business friendly.”
“Our administration is dedicated to establishing pro-business policies at every level,” said Gov. Bevin. “We are excited for both Kayser Automotive and MVP Group as they move forward with this significant expansion. We anticipate more companies will follow in their footsteps as we work with national, regional, county and community level partners to pave the way for every business in Kentucky to prosper.”
“We appreciate the investment, trust and cooperation which has been extended by all parties and the unity and cooperation in this unprecedented, difficult process associated with two companies, two projects and two communities. We believe what we now have is a win-win solution,” Puckett said.
Stefan Schutte, CEO of Kayser Automotive Systems USA, LP said, “Three years ago, Kayser was introduced here. We are growing, and during that time we added Ford as a customer.” Schutte also noted Kayser will be now associated with Jeep Wrangler and Mercedes, producing their products on the assembly lines.
“The problem was, we ran out of space, We are happy to expand and make use of the MVP building and have our equipment installed there,” he said, adding the company will be reaching out “looking for more people” to employ.
The Fulton facility employs about 60 people in manufacturing and assembling plastic injection-molded and metal parts. Products include fuel tank components, engine and under-hood parts, such as activated charcoal canisters, valves, lines, filters and vent ducting, as well vehicle interior components. Kayser Fulton specializes in development and production from 3D simulation to detailed manufacturing to comprehensive testing, all using the latest technologies.
Rodney Bohannon, Vice President and GM of MVP Group, International echoed the sentiment of how “everyone can win” with the announcement, sharing how Mary Propes, the company’s founder had her roots in Mayfield, starting in 1999 with the home fragrance company.
“We have some great people here in the Fulton plant and we will offer all 69 fulltime employees a position in our Mayfield facility. We understand that not all of them will be able to make the transfer, but we also have our Union City, Tenn. distribution center where there could be transfers,” Bohannon said.
He also offered appreciation to Gov. Bevin for providing “tools to support businesses in Kentucky”.
Fulton County-Hickman County Economic Development Partnership board chairman Greg Pruitt encouraged future joint projects relating to economic development between two or more counties and two or more communities, focusing on regional visions.
“The Fultons and the Clintons can’t do it on our own. Each community is different, but we all want jobs” he said, adding the areas of Tourism and Transportation should also be examined from a joint partnership perspective.
Fulton County Judge-Executive Jim Martin praised the state legislators for the recent “right to work law, important on this state line, as a competitive issue” and commended them for the prevailing wage law being “gone”.
Other speakers at the podium Tuesday morning included Fulton Mayor David Prater, Mayfield Mayor Teresa Rochetti-Cantrell, Dave Anderson, Graves County Economic Development Board Chair, Graves County Judge Executive Jesse Perry, and Ryan Drane, Graves County Economic Development President.
The complex deal took months to assemble, and includes modification various existing financial incentives and jobs-related agreements, equipment purchase plans and relocation logistics.
Parties involved include representatives from both companies, county economic development groups, the Delta Regional Authority, local elected officials and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. A memorandum of understanding was signed recently, detailing the plan.