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Co-Lin to train new employer's workers


By Bob Arnold

At least thirty new jobs are coming to southwest Mississippi in Brookhaven's Lindbrook Industrial Park in a major expansion of an Iowa-based electrical components manufacturer, and Co-Lin will make sure trained workers are available to fill them.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced that Keystone Electrical Manufacturing Company (KEMC), based in Des Moines, is locating new production facilities in Brookhaven, which will require primarily skilled electrical technicians to produce parts for power generating facilities.

"We are working with Co-Lin to make sure the workers we need for our manufacturing operations have the skills they need," Fred Buie, president and owner of KEMC said. "We're working with the college to provide training to workers we hire."

Reeves said Keystone is one of a growing number of manufacturing companies that recognize Mississippi as a quality location with skilled labor for their operations. The Governor thanked Co-Lin, the Mississippi Development Authority, Lincoln County-Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Electric Power Association, the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors, Brookhaven Mayor Joe Cox and the town's aldermen for the cooperative effort to bring Keystone to southwest Mississippi.

Brookhaven Mayor Joe Cox noted the cooperation of the city, Lincoln County and local agencies in development of Lindbrook Industrial Park and construction of a 54,000 square foot spec industrial building there to lure employers to the area. Keystone, which is buying the spec building for its operations, decided to locate here as a result of this strategy, he said.

"Don't be surprised if we continue to support future industrial development along the same lines," Cox added Lincoln County Board of Supervisors President Ed Brown also lauded Lincoln County-Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Garrick Combs for his leadership in the area's industrial development.

Keystone's Buie, a Brookhaven native, and a graduate of Brookhaven High School and Mississippi State University, said his company produces "the brains for the electrical power grid."

"Our products monitor demands on the grid and protect it from overloading," he explained. "They also control output of wind farms, based on determination of power demand on wind turbines."

Buie said the Keystone Des Moines operation employs 90 persons, but Brookhaven will be the focus of ongoing expansion, with the facility in Lindbrook Industrial Park initially requiring at least thirty workers, possibly more, including the electrical technicians to be trained by Co-Lin, an electrical engineer and designer.

"We decided to expand in early January, plan to start hiring during the second week of March and address building needs at the industrial park by March 31," Buie said.

Buie said Keystone seeks to be a good corporate citizen, with a particular emphasis on giving its employees the opportunity to succeed in an environment designed to encourage success.

"I am giving back to my hometown, where I started on my career journey," he explained. As a student working at a local mobile homes dealer, he decided to study industrial engineering towards becoming a plant manager -- a "dream job I landed at General Electric when I was relatively young." At 35 years old, realizing he had a long work life ahead, Buie decided to find his own company to run, and purchased Keystone twenty-two years ago.

"Now I am coming back to Brookhaven," Buie said.

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