By DAVID GREEN
In the midst of worsening economic conditions, there’s one bright spot, right in Morenci: Palm Plastics.
The pieces are falling into place, said David Munson of Munson Development Company. Munson also puts in some time each week at the Palm Plastics facility, serving as Director of Corporate Affairs.
“I’m really excited about that and proud to be part of Palm Plastics,” he said.
There were three major steps remaining before construction, Munson said, and one of those was completed Monday.
“We’ve been waiting on the grant process since the project was announced in October,” he said.
Signed documents arrived last week from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and they were signed by Morenci mayor Doug Erskin Friday.
The $2.9 million CDBG is a contract between the state and the city. A signature by Palm Plastics officials Monday completed that step of the project, with the company formally acknowledging its role in job creation and in the building project.
A state representative will come to Morenci in January to go through details of the funding package.
The second step in the project is obtaining an energy contract to provide adequate electricity to operated the new presses on order.
Munson said the company is very close to reaching an agreement for additional power.
The existing production at Palm Plastics requires about 3 megavolt amps (MVA), but additional equipment coming to the plant will increase the need to 5 MVA. The new plant to be constructed will initially require another 4 MVA and eventually 6 MVA.
The final step is to find a developer to construct the new facility in Morenci’s industrial park and lease the building to Palm Plastics.
“We think we’ve done really well with a developer/builder,” Munson said. “We’re impressed with the expertise of the company.”
An agreement for construction won’t come before the energy pact is signed, but Munson expects all agreements to be in order in early January.
“We’re right where we want to be early in the construction season,” he said, expecting ground-breaking to occur in the spring.
The Fayette Business Park (former Fayette Tubular Products) is playing an essential role in the project, Munson explained. More than 50 jobs have opened there, allowing production to increase before Palm’s new facility is constructed.
Palm has made upgrades to the Fayette building that will make the facility more attractive for development in the future.
“In a tough economy, I think we’ve found all the pieces,” Munson said. “It’s very exciting. There’s not a lot of good news on the economic front and it’s great to have it here in Morenci.”