Toy manufacturer Redman & Associates said Monday it will spend $6.5 million to open a new manufacturing and distribution facility in Rogers that will employ 74 people.

The Bentonville-based company makes battery-operated ride-on toys featuring characters from Disney and Marvel franchises for Walmart. The toys are now made in four factories in and around Shanghai, China. Redman & Associates plans to open the new facility in an existing 275,000-square-foot building on North Dixieland Road in Rogers. Production is expected to begin in early 2014.

Mel Redman, president and chief executive officer of Redman & Associates, made the announcement Monday, alongside local and state officials and members of Walmart’s leadership team.

"This is the start of a very long journey to bring manufacturing back to the U.S.," said Bill Simon, president and chief executive officer for Walmart U.S.

Simon announced in January the retailer’s intention to buy an additional $50 billion in U.S. products over the next 10 years. Part of that initiative is to grow U.S. manufacturing.

Redman said the average wage at the plant will be $18.55 an hour.

"That means we are putting about $3 million back into the local economy every year in wages," he said.

Simon said manufacturing job growth in Northwest Arkansas was not a planned goal of the Made in the USA campaign, but is a positive side effect.

"We are not just bringing back jobs, but are bringing back opportunities," he said.

Gov. Mike Beebe said it took a lot of courage for Redman, as a small manufacturer, to make the change. He said patriotism plays a role in business decisions, but in the end the company must stay competitive.

"This is an example of what can happen when folks work together," Beebe said.

In an earlier news release, Redman said he was "extremely proud" to be able to manufacture in Arkansas.

"This agreement was completed through working collaboratively with the state and Walmart and was accelerated following Walmart’s U.S. manufacturing summit in August. We look forward to starting production and creating good-paying positions," he said.


The Springdale Morning News contributed to this report.