A Middle Eastern company that's a global leader in the manufacture of industrial pipes has big plans for the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The chairman of Future Pipe Industries says the new facility in Gulfport will be the cornerstone of his company's investment in the United States.
Hurricane Katrina was an unexpected obstacle. But company leaders remain committed to their future plans here.
"It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Future Pipe Mississippi," said plant manager Mazen Turk, at the start of the ribbon cutting ceremony.
That welcome was several years in the making, but worth the wait for community leaders who gathered to celebrate. Future Pipe could have invested anywhere. Company leaders chose Gulfport.
Chairman Fouad Makhzoumi says he wanted a place where his company could "live and breathe".
"And that is what we saw when we came to Gulfport. Not just a piece of land. Not just a location. But a place where we would be welcome into a community," said Makhzoumi.
Governor Haley Barbour extended a welcome on behalf of Mississippi. He praised the plant leadership for its visionary outlook and cutting edge production facilities.
"This is about technology. This is about the world market place that we live in. This is about Mississippi's ability to successfully compete in that world market place," said Governor Barbour.
"That is the mandrel that the pipe is actually formed on," said Merry Mayo, pointing to the industrial equipment.
Mayo was Future Pipe's first Gulfport hire. The former development commission employee likes the team here.
"It's a good mix. Good people to work with. And the vision they have is something I want to be a part of. The integrity is impeccable," she said.
The grand opening was delayed by the hurricane. But Future Pipe is keeping to its pre-storm promise to expand the Gulfport Plant.
"We have about 50 employees now. We would like to go up to a hundred by the end of this year, and hopefully 300 by the time all of our expansions are through," said Turk.
It's not just "future" job creation at the Gulfport plant. Future Pipe is currently looking to fill several openings.
Hurricane Katrina interrupted the company's original grand opening plans. Plant leaders had planned the celebration for last September. That was before the storm dumped more than two feet of water inside the facility.