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CITE Armored buys Serta building

On hand for a tour of the CITE Armored operations in the former Serta building were local elected officials anxious to see firsthand the business that is expected to employ 30 workers initially, and up to 90 if expected growth is realized. Pictured are (from left) Panola Partnership CEO Joe Azar, Panola County Supervisor Cole Flint, State Sen. Nicole Akins, CITE Armored CEO Teresa Hubbard, State Rep. Brady Williamson, State Rep. Lataisha Jackson, CITE Armored founder Ken Russell, and Batesville Mayor Jerry Autrey. 

Armored vehicle company has military contract, hiring already begun

Panola County native Teresa Hubbard founded CITE Armored with Ken Russell in 2002 in Holly Springs with six employees. This week the company announced a major expansion with the purchase of the former Serta manufacturing building at the corner of Hwy. 35N and Keating/Brewer Rd.

CITE Armored began as an armored vehicle manufacturing company focusing mostly on turning out vehicles designed to safely transport cash from businesses, financial institutions, and ATM vending locations.

As the company grew, orders for the manufacture of personal armored vehicles were part of the early years. The Holly Springs site now has about 100 employees and specializes in the armored truck part of the industry, producing the familiar trucks that transport cash and other financial instruments around the world.

CITE Armored now manufactures and services armored cars, SWAT vehicles and supply vehicles for organizations throughout the U.S. and worldwide, including the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, the Iraq Ministry of Trade and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

The expansion to the 122,000 square foot facility will accommodate additional military contracts that Hubbard secured last week after a two-year long process. CITE Armored will move its armored van production to the former Serta building while maintaining the production of its other armored vehicles in Holly Springs.

For the Batesville site, Hubbard said workers will be hired for fabrication, auto body work, painting, assembly, and all other spectrums of work needed to transform a standard passenger vehicle into an armored car, truck, or van.

CITE Armored was recognized as a woman-owned company with phenomenal success in 2018 when Hubbard was named Business Woman of the Year by the Mississippi Business Journal.

At a gathering of local elected officials Monday at the CITE Armored site, Hubbard said she is thrilled to be part of the Panola County industrial team, and is excited to begin the interview process of filling up to 60 jobs by the end of next year, depending on the scope of the new military contracts.

Hubbard said the next step is to deliver an armored passenger vehicle for the military that will be tested before production is ramped up.

Most of the details of the contract are secret and required security clearances to bid, but Hubbard said she expects vehicles similar to the Toyota Land Cruiser, the Chevrolet Suburban, and passenger vans to be transformed into armored transport able to withstand gunfire and explosives for the protection of passengers in the Batesville plant.

The project is a $2.3 million corporate investment that was expected to create 30 jobs with the production of armored vans, but the added military business may triple that initial estimate.

“Mississippi is well known around the globe for our industry-leading automotive companies, including those like CITE Armored that manufacture top-quality, sturdy vehicles for our military and allies around the world, as well as domestic organizations,” Gov. Tate Reeves said. “The expansion of CITE Armored into Batesville reinforces Mississippi’s position as a prime location for these companies to thrive and create jobs, and I wish the CITE Armored team continued growth and success in our great state.”

“CITE is excited to be opening our second location in Batesville. We feel confident that Batesville will provide a strong strategic advantage in fulfilling our customer needs,” said CEO  Hubbard. “Thank you to all those who have made this transition efficient and seamless.”

“Mississippians are dedicated to producing superior armored vehicles for CITE Armored – a characteristic that is critical to the protection of the organizations and individuals for whom the vehicles are built,” said MDA Interim Director John Rounsaville. “MDA, along with our partners at the Panola Partnership, Panola County, the city of Batesville and TVA, is proud to support this homegrown Mississippi company as it brings new jobs to the people of Northwest Mississippi.”

CITE Armored qualifies for the Advantage Jobs Rebate Program, which provides a rebate to eligible businesses that create new jobs that exceed the average annual wage of the state or county in which the company locates or expands. Panola County, the city of Batesville, the Panola Partnership and TVA also are assisting with the project.

“From the very first meeting it was apparent that CITE Armored was looking for a community that could supply a consistent skilled workforce,” said Panola Partnership CEO Joe Azar. “The combination of the Concourse skills training center, the PreK-12 Spark program and our strong ACT WorkReady Community numbers put our location on top.”

“I was happy to be part of the Panola Partnership’s pitch team to CITE Armored owners. The Partnership’s team included a meeting with the Mississippi Development Authority, TVA, TVEPA, Northwest Community College, State Workforce Investment Board, city and county officials, followed by a luncheon of local business leaders,” said Panola County Board of Supervisors President Cole Flint. “Today, we proudly welcome CITE to Panola County.”

“It was good to see the Panola Partnership backfill the Serta building so quickly to a company with global reach,” said Batesville Mayor Jerry Autrey. “The CITE Armored vehicle company will be producing armored vans in Batesville, and they are certified for future military projects.”

“TVA and Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association congratulate CITE Armored on its decision to expand operations and create new job opportunities in Batesville,” said TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley. “Helping to foster job creation and investment is central to TVA’s mission of service, and we are proud to partner with Panola Partnership, Panola County officials and the Mississippi Development Authority to support companies like CITE Armored’s continued business success.”