- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

GUNTOWN, Miss. (AP) - H.M. Richards will expand its Lee County upholstered furniture plant, investing $8 million and adding 500 jobs.

The company already has 977 employees in a 900,000 square-foot plant in Guntown. H.M. Richards will buy land next door and add a 280,000 square-foot building for the expansion at the Harry A. Martin North Lee Industrial Complex.

State and local authorities are giving cash and tax breaks projected to be worth more than $5.4 million. The Mississippi Development Authority is providing $2.95 million in state aid, including $2.45 million for site preparation, infrastructure, electrical, and parking lot improvements. The company will also receive $500,000 for worker training.

Lee County and the Community Development Foundation will contribute $136,000 for road, water and sewer work and the Appalachian Regional Commission will give $450,000. The Tennessee Valley Authority is also giving undisclosed assistance. Greg Giachelli, vice president of the economic development for the Community Development Foundation, said Lee County is likely to grant tax abatements worth $1.9 million over 10 years.

Giachelli said new jobs created would pay $32,700 a year, on average.

H.M. Richards is majority-owned by furniture retailer Rooms To Go of Seffner, Florida. Last year, Rooms To Go CEO Jeff Seaman told trade publication Furniture Today that Rooms to Go would either add to its Mississippi plant or open a location in North Carolina.

“The expansion of our existing facility is the right decision at the right time,” H.M. Richards Vice President of Manufacturing Thomas Wells said in a statement Monday.

Giachelli said the race was “tuck-and-go” between Mississippi and North Carolina, but said Mississippi offered a number of advantages, including an experienced upholstery workforce and supplier base. He also noted that the H.M. Richards management team is local.

H.M. Richards was founded in 1997 in Saltillo and built its current plant in 1999. The company makes upholstered furniture for Rooms To Go and other retailers in the United States and Canada.

“The company could have chosen to expand elsewhere, and the fact the H.M. Richards team chose its Guntown location speaks volumes about the strength of Mississippi’s business climate and furniture industry and about the productive workforce throughout the region and entire state,” Gov. Phil Bryant said in a statement.

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