Oxane Materials accepted a $25,000 check, the second payment of $75,000 promised by the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce if the production facility located and expanded in Van Buren. "Everything is beginning to click for us," said Jeff Franklin, Vice President of Manufacturing for Oxane. "The market is still getting to know us and our product."
Oxane Materials manufactures highly conductive, ultralight ceramic proppants which are used in shale exploration for natural gas. Before locating in Van Buren, Oxane considered more than 80 facilities in eight states.
During the Dec. 28, 2009, announcement that it would locate in Van Buren, Oxane touted the area's "excellent logistics for bringing in raw materials and shipping the finished product, a great workforce, and a very business-minded community."
As part of the effort to get Oxane to locate in this area, the Fort Smith Regional Chamber offered $25,000 when Oxane hired its first local employees, $25,000 after its first product sale, and a final $25,000 when Oxane reaches employment of 150 employees.
Oxane announced it would initally invest $15 million in the plant, which is located on Industrial Park Road. Expansion plans are anticipated through 2014 and could bring an additional investment up to $32 million and total employment of 300. Franklin said Oxane currently employs 65 and is operating one line 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Oxane is currently buying equipment for a second line with six lines planned for the current facility.
"We have received very positive information from multiple customers," Franklin said. "It is a little early to know about the forecast for the future but we expect to be looking at another building for expansion when the ball begins to roll when the market gets to know our product." Franklin said that Oxane is proud to be a part of the community and is looking forward to hiring more local people.
Jackie Krutsch, Executive Director of the Van Buren Chamber, expressed her appreciation for the support of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber in helping to lure Oxane to Van Buren.