Business: Jackson area supports several thriving industrial operations

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Jerry Townsend and Adrian Aguila oversee boxes coming out of the folder-gluer at Signature Packaging and Paper, LLC. on Friday, February 29, 2008. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

Many in Southeast Missouri see Jackson as a bedroom community. But there's more to Jackson and the surrounding area than homes.

There's a vibrant industrial presence as well.Three industrial plants in Jackson plus Procter & Gamble and Nordenia together account for around 1,175 jobs for Jackson residents.

According to September figures supplied by the region's industrial recruitment office, the largest employer in the city limits of Jackson is Rubbermaid with around 300 employees.

Rubbermaid's Jackson plant makes wire and wood closet-organizing products.

ARI-Jackson employs just over 100. ARI supplies fabrication, machining, welding and heat treating items primarily for the rail car industry. But ARI products have many other applications. For example, ARI-Jackson provided structural steel fabrications for the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge.

Signature Packing and Paper's Jackson plant produces corrugated boxes, other types of packaging and packaging services, with Procter & Gamble their No. 1 customer. The packaging plant employs 32 people.

Procter & Gamble, the biggest manufacturing employer in the area, provides employment to an estimated 753 Jackson residents. Procter & Gamble has a total work force of around 1,200.

Nordenia, which makes plastic products, employs 381 employees, including an estimated 141 from Jackson.

The huge Procter & Gamble plant produces three of the 23 P&G products that gross more than $1 billion in annual sales: Bounty, Pampers and Charmin.

Nordenia, near the P&G plant to make plastic overwrap for P&G products, has since expanded to make plastic wrap for other products such as Tyson Foods.

With Jackson's location on Interstate 55, its proximity to the Mississippi River and to two metropolitan areas (St. Louis and Memphis); and its dependable work force, the aforementioned companies have enjoyed success over the years.

"The major benefits to our Magnet area (Cape Girardeau County and city, Jackson and Scott City) are a central U.S. location, a productive, educated, trainable work force, a low cost/low tax state and a great quality of life," said Mitch Robinson, industrial recruiter. "However, many other locations can claim these same traits.

"But when companies do actually visit the area, we have a very high percentage of closing the deal. Many people see the area as much larger than what our population really is. This is due to our area being a regional hub for Southeast Missouri and much of Southern Illinois."

These thoughts are echoed by Brian Gerau, executive director of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce.

Robinson noted that the local MAGNET area is now recognized as a Metropolitan Statistical Area and that a recent CNN/Money Magazine poll had ranked Jackson as 59th in a list of best places to live in the United States with populations of less than 50,000.

"These kinds of things are important for companies and businesses who now may have our area on their radar screens for possible review and consideration when facing a need for a new location or relocation," Robinson said.

Jackson Chamber of Commerce executive director, Brian Gerau, noted that this area is almost exactly halfway between St. Louis and Memphis. It is a stopping point for many passing trucks and travelers. "We have the attractions in these two major metropolitan areas within two hours or less by car without the problems that can be associated with such areas," Gerau said.

"We have a low crime rate, the Jackson High School graduation rate is 93 percent, we have a good economic structure and have avoided the major layoffs faced recently in some areas of the country," Gerau added.

"When we can get prospective business and industry people to visit, our best sales people are our current business and industry owners and operators," Gerau said.