Bekaert plans an $8.4 million expansion to create 35 new jobs for rural internet supplies

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier
Bekaert is expanding its steel wire production in Van Buren to create wires needed to increase rural internet access.

Bekaert, a steel wire production facility in Van Buren, is expanding its operations to help with the Federal Communication Commission's plans for getting internet to rural areas.

Bekaert Van Buren will grow its production with a 50,000-square-foot expansion estimated to cost the company around $8.4 million, creating 35 new jobs for the community.

Bekaert will ramp up its production of wire straightening production to fulfill the demand from the FCC. The company plans to break ground for this expansion in August and be fully operational by the end of the year. 

The Crawford County Quorum Court approved a resolution Monday certifying its endorsement of Bekaert to participate in a tax-back program.

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According to the Arkansas Consolidated Incentive Act of 2003, this incentive program grants a sales and use tax refund on the purchases of the material used in the construction of a building or buildings or any addition, modernization, or improvement to a new or expanding eligible business.

"It won't come out of the county's budget," said Julie Murray, Van Buren Chamber of Commerce president. "It will only impact the county for things that would be purchased here."

Crawford County Judge Dennis Gilstrap said that this will be a "win-win for the county."

"Those jobs that this will add on, these are the people that will be investing back into our economy," Gilstrap said. 

Bekaert has been in Van Buren since the 1970s and is one of the main producers of steel wire and strand for the company. In 2018, Bekaert added 40 jobs with a $16 million, 100,000-square-foot expansion. 

Miles of wire for anything from steel-belted tires and solar panels to fences and bridges, notebooks and power lines, highway cable barriers, and insulin injectors can be found in the making at Bekaert in Van Buren.

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