Defense Plant Boosts Stone County Economy

A defense industry partnership means new jobs and a welcome economic boost for Stone County.

General Dynamics hosted a ribbon cutting Tuesday morning at a new sixteen thousand square foot manufacturing plant in McHenry.

The facility brings immediate employment opportunity and the prospect for future expansion.

"You don't make this kind of commitment that we've made here today without really considering what you're doing from a business climate. And I can tell you that my experience in South Mississippi has been just wonderful," said David Siggers of General Dynamics as he addressed a crowd at the ribbon cutting.

Community leaders celebrated the economic boost made possible by the partnership of General Dynamics and Best Foam Fabricators.

The new plant means an initial 15 new jobs. The manufacturing will provide packaging for a widely used helicopter rocket system.

Senator Thad Cochran says the venture will benefit the local economy and America's war on terrorism.

"We're going to be doing our part in helping win a vital war. To protect American security and save American lives."

The plant also means job opportunities.

"Ten minutes away. No traffic. Wonderful," said new employee, Cheryl Lacey.

Lacey and Vickie Henderson live in Saucier. They're now part of the new production team.

"We're assembling packaging products. Production line stuff. I like it. It's exciting work. And the company is treating us well so far," said Henderson.

Even though the manufacturing isn't fully up and running just yet, the company president is already optimistic about the possibility of a future expansion.

"We see this plant going to at least 25 or 35 employees within the next 12 months or so. We have a lot of opportunity. A lot of exciting things. And we see some good things for the building," said Best Foam Fabricators President, Keith Hasty.

Stone County certainly welcomes such development.

Duncan Hatten is president of the Stone County board of supervisors.

"It is our intention to see that Stone County progresses industrially and with businesses. We're proud to be in partnership with industries like General Dynamics and Best Foam Fabricators," said Hatten.

The smiles at the ribbon cutting certainly reflected that pride.

General Dynamics also donated more than 12 thousand dollars to several community causes.

Those include a reading program at Perkinston Elementary, scholarships at Gulf Coast Community College and new fire equipment for the McHenry volunteer fire department.