Governor Bobby Jindal was at Camp Minden yesterday to join in the announcement of Camp Minden's newest tenant.
Jack Blalock, senior business development manager for Tiburon Associates Inc., announced that Tiburon will create 350 jobs and open a maintenance overhaul facility for transport vehicles at Camp Minden.
"The transport vehicles are used to move military equipment and personnel to the battlefront," Jindal said. "The project will result in approximately 500 indirect jobs, for a total of more than 900 new direct and indirect jobs in the regional economy.
"Tiburon looked at other sites in Texas and Arkansas, but chose Camp Minden," he continued. "This project will not only boost our economy, it will support our brave military men and women."
Local community leaders also spoke during the announcement.
"We are grateful here in Webster Parish and in Northwest Louisiana. This opportunity is unbelievable," said Charlie Walker, Webster Parish Police Jury President. "I wish I was young enough to get a job out here. And that is saying something because I've been around here for a long time, and I never wanted to come out and work here before – because they were building bombs, and it scared me to death," Walker said to a laughing audience of Military personnel and local officials.
"I am so happy this opportunity is coming here, and want all our elected officials and Tiburon to know how wonderful this is and how much we appreciate it."
Blalock said he appreciates the support he has received from the area.
"Everyone I have talked to in this area has lended me a hand and offered support to the project. Along the way I have made some very good friends." he said.
Blalock said Tiburon has been experiencing growth and was looking to expand into additional larger facilities.
"We began looking for places – and we were looking around at several places. However, all the analysis came back to Camp Minden, and we are glad that it was so," he said.
Partnership in the Northwest Louisiana area is what Blalock attributes the final decision to.
"As long as we all work together as partners and as a team, there is absolutely no reason why this facility, this operation can't continue to grow and become one of the premier employers in the northwest corner of the state," he said. "And I know that will happen here because of the partnerships and friends we have already made in the area."
Blalock recounted a conversation with an unnamed state secretary of commerce, from another state, who did not share Tiburon's vision.
"They were trying to go after a big Bowing or other similar contract, and come in and bring in 1,000 jobs instantly. They were arguing that they had infrastructure, such as power lines and paved roads," he said. "I tried to explain to the secretary, that infrastructure is a lot more than just power lines and roads, but that it includes a skilled and willing workforce, a training mechanism, and a business friendly environment."
Blalock feels Northwest Louisiana understands his position on what true infrastructure is.
"There is not a single item that we have needed in this process, in starting up at Camp Minden, that we have not been able to find here on Highway 80," he said. "If we need it, it is there. If it is not there, it these folks get it here the next day. You don't find that every place in the country. So many places are indifferent to what we are trying to do. This area's willingness and partnership is what sold us on this location and it is why we are looking forward to a long term partnership and growth in the region."
According to information from Jindal's office, the new facility will have the capability to overhaul any Army vehicle that doesn't run on tracks, meaning any vehicle or equipment on tires is a candidate for servicing at Camp Minden. Specific equipment overhauled at the facility will include Humvees, medium and heavy-duty trucks and trailers, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles and more. A majority of the equipment Tiburon reconditions will have seen service in combat or in support of combat operations overseas.
Tiburon Associates plans to hire 40 employees in August as it begins operations with the reconditioning of heavy-duty trailers from the Red River Army Depot. Tiburon's employment will reach 100 by the end of 2012 and it will increase its jobs at Camp Minden to 350 in the next three to five years.
To secure the project, LED offered Tiburon a performance-based Economic Development Loan Program award of $500,000 that's forgivable if the company meets its payroll commitments. In addition, Tiburon will receive the services of LED FastStart and the company is expected to utilize the state's Quality Jobs Program. Tiburon leased more than 30,000 square feet of former machining space at Camp Minden in anticipation of winning the U.S. Army contract.