Kohler announces $20M expansion

By STAFF REPORTS,

Kohler Industries announced a $20 million expansion Tuesday morning that is expected to bring approximately 250 full-time jobs to the Pine Belt and add a second engine line for the Wisconsin-based manufacturer of small engines.

The announcement was made less than an hour after a settlement agreement was reached between Kohler and city and county officials in connection with a lawsuit asking for reimbursement of some $2 million in tax payments. Under the terms of the settlement, Forrest County taxpayers will have to pay 75 percent of the total amount due over the course of the next 10 years.  (For more on the settlement, click here: https://bit.ly/2TxEMhv)

Gov. Phil Bryant joined officials from the county, city and Area Development Partnership for the announcement at Lake Terrace Convention Center. Kohler, the manufacturer of small engines, will locate this second line in approximately 300,000 square feet in the industrial park facility formerly occupied by Stion.

“The Forrest County Board of Supervisors couldn’t be prouder of Kohler’s decision to make this expansion here locally,” said Board President David Hogan. “Brian Melka, president of Kohler Engines of America, made a visit (to Hattiesburg) and the mayor and I got to meet with him and iron out some of the details. They were looking at a number of locations around the country. We’re just ecstatic that they made the decision to make this significant of an expansion – upwards of $20 million and 250 employees, 50 of those which are administrative positions.”

Hogan said the county has had a two-decade relationship with Kohler and the board looks forward to working with them for many decades to come. Hogan said this would also mean a huge windfall for the school districts which benefit from the taxes paid by such industries.

Kohler, a Wisconsin company best known for its plumbing products, opened a small engine manufacturing facility in Hattiesburg in 1996 after being courted with city and county tax exemptions via the ADP.

 “We want people to know that Forrest County is business friendly and we want to sustain and expand job creation,” Hogan said. “Kohler is a good partner and we appreciate what they have done and will continue to do in the future.”