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LITTLE ROCK, AR-Two international companies decided to put down manufacturing roots in the area, investing a combined total of $250 million in infrastructure and facility development. Welspun Gujarat Stahl Rohren Ltd. of India will build its 450,000-sf steel pipe manufacturing company on 740 acres, while Denmark company LM Glasfiber A/S is planning a new factory that will manufacture and distribute fiberglass turbine blades.

Both plants will be located near Interstate 440, with the $100-million Welspun plant close to the Little Rock Port Authority, and seven miles east of Downtown. Rajesh Chokhani, general manager with Welspun, tells GlobeSt.com that the Little Rock site was selected for Welspun’s first US plant because of the area’s rail-served and waterfront location.

“We’re going to be manufacturing 80-foot pipes, and it makes more sense to send those by railroad and barge, rather than by road,” Chokhani says. He says the plant itself will consist of two facilities; one that manufactures the pipes, and the other to coat them. Site work has begun on the area, with the completion set for July 2008. The plant is anticipated to bring 300 jobs to the area.

Chokhani says another appeal of the Little Rock site was room for expansion. “We’re only taking 150 acres out of the land so far to build,” he explains. “We won’t be land-locked, and this gives us room to expand when it comes time.” May Construction Co. of Little Rock is the designer and general contractor.

Rail and barge service also played a role in LM Glasfiber’s decision to place its $150-million plant in Little Rock. “The site itself offers excellent logistical options, whether by road, rail, air or marine,” says LM Glasfiber CEO Roland M. Sundén in a press release. He added that the plant’s location is well-located to serve the company’s central US customers.

The facility will be LM Glasfiber’s third in North America; the company has facilities in North Dakota and Quebec. Representatives from LM Glasfiber could not be reached by press time.

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