In 85 years of operation, Muncie Power Products hasn’t constructed any facility from the ground up.

“We’ve bought them. We’ve refurbished them,” said Ray Chambers, president and CEO of the Tulsa manufacturer. “We’ve never built.”

Until now.

The company on Thursday celebrated the start of construction on a new 250,000-square-foot plant, the first such development at the Peoria-Mohawk Business Park. Phase 1 is scheduled for completion in the spring.

“When Muncie Power Products does something, we do it first-class and then take it up a notch,” Chambers said. “This is going to be great for our community. It’s going to be great for our company.”

A relocation of the 7217 E. Pine St. facility that employs 250, the new plant at 1555 E. Mohawk Blvd. will enlarge capacity for new manufacturing machinery, assembly equipment and warehousing. It will be the Indiana-based Muncie’s primary manufacturing facility for the making and assembling of power take-offs and other hydraulic components for work trucks.

A company official couldn’t provide a cost for the facility or say how many new jobs it could create.

Site development of the 120-acre Peoria-Mohawk Business Park, located at Peoria Avenue and 36th Street North, was backed by a $10 million incentive via Vision Tulsa, a portion of which is supporting the Muncie site. Partners on the project include the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the city of Tulsa, Tulsa Community WorkAdvance and Tulsa Tech.

“There’s been an acknowledgment, I think for several years in our city, that north Tulsa took a back seat to the rest of the city when it came to economic opportunity and economic development,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “There simply wasn’t enough investment in this part of our city for decades.

“That’s one of the key reasons that when we put the Vision Tulsa program forward, we gave the citizens of Tulsa the opportunity to show that they wanted to do something to make the kind of investment that would create greater economic opportunity in this part of our city through work at this site. And it was approved overwhelmingly.”

Of Muncie’s project, Bynum added: “The opportunities that you’re going to create, the lives that you are going to change here at this site, are remarkable. It will be a multigenerational transformation for our city.”

Vanessa Hall-Harper, the Tulsa city councilor who represents the area, said the project will provide much needed livable-wage positions.

“It’s not every day that great economic opportunities make their way to District 1,” she said. “And it’s certainly not every day that quality jobs come to District 1.”

According to prepandemic statistics, more than 35% of north Tulsans lived in poverty, compared with 17% of those living in the rest of the city, Hall-Harper said.

“It is time that we get back to shopping and working within the same communities that we live in,” she said. “I look forward to the day when I can see someone walk to work or bike to work right here on this site.”

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Rhett Morgan