MILWAUKEE — Johnson Controls broke ground on an expansion of its air-handling unit manufacturing facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

The 22,000 square-foot expansion will create 40-50 new assembly jobs to boost production and the local economy. The facility, which manufactures both YORK and Miller-Picking brand systems, is increasing its footprint in response to the growing demand for custom air-handling units.

“We’re excited to start this project, create attractive employment opportunities for area residents, and serve the growing needs of the heating and air conditioning industry,” said Ramiro Rodriguez, plant manager, Johnson Controls. “This expansion is another chapter in our long-term commitment to employees, Forrest County, and area business partners.”

The expansion, which will increase the facility’s size to 120,000 square feet, includes the relocation of several sub-assembly cells and opens more manufacturing space in the main plant. Johnson Controls will also install a new crane system that will move products during the manufacturing process. The project is slated to be completed in May 2020.

"It is always welcome news when one of Hattiesburg's longstanding manufacturing employers adds additional jobs,” said Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker. "We congratulate Johnson Controls on this expansion. It is a testament to the company's forward-thinking leadership and to Hattiesburg’s dynamic and skilled workforce."

Johnson Controls currently employs 225 workers at the facility. The existing plant was built in 1968, and the last building expansion was completed more than 20 years ago.

The new expansion involves ongoing collaboration among many partners, including the City of Hattiesburg, Forrest County, and Area Development Partnership. The general contractor is Rustin Metal Buildings and Construction, Laurel, Mississippi.

“Johnson Controls’ expansion in Hattiesburg speaks to our pro-business operating environment and the quality of our regional workforce,” said Chad Driskell, chair, Area Development Partnership. “Employees drive from across South Mississippi to work in the regional hub, which also creates more opportunities here for them to dine, shop and play.”

“We’re honored to hear Johnson Controls is expanding here in Forrest County,” said David Hogan, president of the Forrest County Board of Supervisors. “The company has a history of success here in the Forrest County Industrial Park that dates back 50 years, and we look forward to the company’s presence for another 50 years as a major contributor to our strong manufacturing sector.”

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