Connor Industries lands in Coahoma County

May 23, 2024

Connor Industries, a Canadian boat building company that manufactures welded aluminum fire, rescue and police boats under the Stanley brand, has announced plans to expand production and will build a new plant near the banks of the Mississippi River in Coahoma County.

The plant will employ a minimum of 56 people, creating new jobs for the northwest Mississippi Delta.

Plant construction on the 53-acre site in northern Coahoma County is expected to begin within the next several months.

While Connor Industries has purchased the land and will build the plant, Coahoma County plans to build a road from the plant over the levee to the river and a boat ramp from which Connor Industries will be able to launch and test their vessels.

A crowd of more than 250 people gathered at The Pinnacle on the campus of Coahoma Community College Friday to hear the announcement.

“Most of you know this announcement has been a long time coming,” said Hartley Kittle, who headed up the Coahoma County Industrial Foundation team created by Crossroads Economic Partnership to bring this project to Coahoma County. “I first told people, ‘the train is on the tracks.’ Then I told people ‘I can see the station.’ Well, today I am glad to say, ‘The train has arrived!’”

The project began more than three years ago. Funding was initially announced as part of several economic development projects across the state more than a year ago, and then it hit a snag. Crossroads Economic Partnership Executive Director Jon Levingston said, with the help of James Curcio, of North Delta Planning and Development, the project pivoted to a new funding source.

The county has received four grants totaling approximately $4.7 million to fund the construction of the road as well as improvements to a nearby road adjacent to the plant property. Grants included approximately $2.2 million from the Delta Regional Authority, approximately $2.1 million from the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Commerce Department and $400,000 from the State of Mississippi. The project will receive $50,000 through Cooperative Energy, of which Coahoma Electric Power Association is a member.

Connor Industries’ financial contribution to the project will exceed $8 million.

“We are thrilled to create new economic opportunity for the citizens of Coahoma County and the entire northwest Delta region," said Bill Connor, Founder and CEO of Connor Industries. "We are grateful to all those in local, state and the federal U.S. government who have helped in the recruitment and funding of infrastructure necessary for Connor Industries to expand into Coahoma County, Mississippi. We are excited for the growth opportunities for our company represented by this expansion.”

Coahoma County Board of Supervisors President, Pat Davis said, “Our county is grateful that Bill Connor wishes to locate here. We pledge our support to help him become among the most successful businesses in our state. We are grateful for the state and federal support necessary to make this project possible. We look forward to the new jobs Connor Industries will create for our citizens and the significant benefits those jobs will have on our local economy.”

Connor Industries, under the trademark brand name Stanley, specializes in welded aluminum commercial vessels, servicing federal, state, and local governments’ needs for superior marine response vessels.

Connor Industries was founded by Bill Connor over 35 years ago, with its headquarters located in Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada. This is the first expansion outside of Canada.

Levingston thanked the Coahoma County Board of Supervisors – past and present – for their work on this project. Levingston also thanked Clarksdale Mayor Chuck Espy and City Commissioners for their teamwork with the county.

“This was not one person’s effort,” said Levingston. “The city, county, state and federal agencies worked together. This was a collaborative effort.”

Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Bill Cork said he was impressed with the turnout and it was one of the largest he had seen for an industrial announcement.

“First you must have political alliances, which are so critical to the development of economic projects,” said Cork. “You must also have top talent who can tell your story. I can’t wait until the ribbon cutting and the opportunity to come back here.”

Malouf Construction, out of Greenville will handle much of the construction.

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