Oxford auto supplier could expand, bring 87 jobs
by Patrick McCreless
Dec 14, 2011 | 4271 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
OXFORD – An Oxford auto supplier could soon expand operations and create 87 jobs for the area.

The Oxford City Council approved tax abatements for Bridgewater Interiors at its Tuesday meeting to entice the company to move forward on a proposed $4.3 million expansion of its Oxford facility. The company’s corporate executives still have to finalize the expansion plan.

If finalized, the expansion would be completed and the 87 additional employees would be hired by 2013.

The council also agreed to give Bridgewater Interiors $75,000 from the general fund to help the company with capital improvement costs. The state has promised an additional $125,000 for capital improvement costs, said Don Hopper, executive director of the Calhoun County Economic Development Council.

The Calhoun County Economic Development Council has been in negotiations with Bridgewater Interiors on the proposed expansion for the last several months, Hopper said.

“We’re proud they’re here and glad to see their parking lots are full of cars and we’re glad to help them on this expansion,” Hopper said. “We’re optimistic (the company) will get this expansion approved and move forward.”

Bridgewater Interiors, which manufactures seats for the Pilot SUV produced at the Honda automotive plant in Lincoln, opened in 2003 and currently employs more than 250 people. The company would pay out an additional $2.5 million in annual payroll for the 87 hires.

“These will be good-paying jobs,” Hopper said.

The expansion is under consideration as a direct result of Honda’s expansion plans announced earlier this year. The Japanese automaker announced earlier this year it would invest a total of $191 million in its Lincoln plant to expand annual output, improve manufacturing flexibility and transfer production of the Acura MDX luxury SUV from its facility in Canada. The expansion is underway and should be completed in 2013.

“We currently make seats for the Pilot – we would expand that for the Acura MDX,” said Farrah Woodley, plant controller for Bridgewater Interiors.

Under the approved abatements, Bridgewater Interiors would be exempt for 10 years from paying all state and local non-educational ad valorem taxes, all mortgage and recording taxes and all construction-related transaction taxes, except those levied for educational purposes.

Mayor Leon Smith said he was very appreciative of the company’s efforts to expand operations in Oxford.

“I appreciate your company and I appreciate you being in our community,” Smith said. “I think it’s a great honor to our community for (Bridgewater) to increase their facility and put people to work here.”

Councilman Steven Waits said the expansion would be great for all of the city, not just for the new hires.

“The school system will win immediately from this,” Waits said, referring to the extra tax funding the school system will receive. “The bottom line is this is a huge win for the city.”

In other business the council approved a $119,000 contract for concrete and other construction at the softball complex at Oxford Lake, an $85,380 contract for concrete paving at the city’s recently constructed fire department in Talladega County and a one-time pay raise of $50 to all city employees. The council also named a road at C.E. Hanna School as Marvin Jones Drive.

Contact staff writer Patrick McCreless at 256-235-3561.

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