The October announcement by Blauer Manufacturing that it had purchased the vacant Batesville Casket Company for an expansion of its business in North Mississippi was among the top news stories and developments in Panola County during the past 12 months.
The maker of clothing and protective wear for police officers, firefighters, and public safety officials has a long history of operations in the area, having occupied plants in Yalobusha and Lafayette Counties for many years.
Most recently, the family owned Blauer company employed about 125 people at its Oxford facility, but chose to relocate to Batesville when expansion plans could not be completed at its existing building.
The Batesville Casket Company, once among the largest employers in the county, began laying off workers in 2016 and was completely shut down last year. City and county officials worked months trying to locate a buyer, or occupant, for the Casket building and to hopefully help fill some of the lost jobs created when the casket maker moved some of its work to Mexico.
Panola Partnership CEO Joe Azar said the county was hurt deeply when Batesville Casket left the area, but was fortunate to have an available space when Blauer outgrew their Oxford facility and began looking for places to expand operations.
“Blauer Manufacturing is run by visionaries that share a family environment with the people they work with. Their turnover remains consistently below one percent, and that is inspiring,” he said.
Blauer currently employees about 150 workers and has plans to add 125 more over the coming months when the company is able to ramp up production here.
The Mississippi Development Authority is providing assistance for building renovations and workforce training. The Panola Partnership is providing assistance for start-up costs. The city of Batesville and Panola County are providing a 10-year property tax abatement in support of the project. Panola County is also granting a Free Port Warehouse Inventory tax exemption for the project.
“By nearly doubling its workforce in North Mississippi, Blauer is demonstrating to the world a Mississippi location enables companies to win in today’s competitive global marketplace,” said MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. “We salute the teamwork of the Panola Partnership, Panola County and the city of Batesville which, along with the MDA team, proved instrumental in bringing 125 new careers to the people of North Mississippi.”
Blauer had been working in Lafayette County since 1997. The company is expected to be fully operational in Panola County by the third quarter of 2019.