Tower Breaks Ground

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Even while the groundbreaking ceremony for Tower Automotive was going on in Meridian, Miss., Wednesday, encouraging sounds were coming from the site.

With the assembly process set to begin in as few as four months, officials say that there is a lot of work to do, even though the former Delco-Remy plant is still in good shape.

"This building has not been occupied since 1997, so there has been quite a bit of deterioration of the building," said EMBDC president Wade Jones. "But the structure, the structural steel, the exterior walls, the concrete, there's a large investment there, it's in good condition."

The work inside the building was not the only activity on the site. Crews were working outside making room for an expansion.

"The basic core of the building is still in great shape, so for us, it is easy for us to build upon," said Bill Pumphrey of Tower Automotive. "Obviously, we are going to be putting an expansion on the side of it to put our stamping facility to marry up to the assembly side of the business."

The company handling the construction is O'Neal Inc., headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina. Officials say that they are ahead of schedule in the construction process.

"The progress of the project is going pretty good right now. We're in the design stages right now and we're putting together a GMP, which is a guaranteed max price for all the work that's going to be performed here," said Bob Knotts of O'Neal, Inc.

Officials say that they expect the first product to arrive in late April. Tower says it will begin shipping out soon after that.