MSU's Franklin Furniture Institute helps local companies


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Posted: 8/23/2010


Two Mississippi furniture manufacturers may have cheaper electrical bills with the help of Mississippi State University’s Franklin Furniture Institute.

Debbie Miller, institute export coordinator and assistant, has worked with Tupelo’s Lane Furniture Company and Ecru’s American Furniture Company in obtaining grant funding through the Mississippi Development Authority.

The award, totaling $650,000, will be used to upgrade lighting and cooling/heating systems for the north Mississippi companies.

"Occasionally, there are federal or state grant funds available to the furniture industry," said Bill Martin, institute director. "We are pleased to offer this service to the furniture industry, which often does not have someone with this expertise."

Funding availability was provided by the Mississippi Job Protection through Energy Economic Development program administered by MDA. More than $40 million was distributed to the state by the U.S. Department of Energy for improving energy efficiency.

"When we first became aware of this opportunity, we sent a notice to furniture manufacturers across the state to make them aware of the funding and our ability to assist in writing a proposal," Martin said.

Lane Furniture’s corporate projects engineer Jeff Gilmore expects the improvements to create a 50 percent energy reduction in the lighting and HVAC systems at the company’s Saltillo facility.

"The institute facilitated everything we needed to get this grant," Gilmore said. "Not only will this help this facility, we also hope it will spark some energy savings awareness among our employees."

Blair Taylor, chief financial officer for American Furniture Manufacturers, agreed, adding that the institute made the process much easier.

Established some 20 years ago, the university’s Franklin Furniture Institute works to assist companies with services including furniture testing, marketing, exporting, workforce training, and, in this case, grant writing.

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