Mullican Flooring, a national manufacturer of quality hardwood floors, announced at a press conference recently that it plans to hire 28 new employees at its Norton, Va., production facility in order to meet anticipated product demand in the coming months.

The growth is being facilitated by a grant from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission and represents a $3 million investment in new hires and equipment.

The Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission is a 31-member body created by the 1999 General Assembly to promote economic growth and development in tobacco-dependent communities, using proceeds of the national tobacco settlement. To date, the Commission has awarded 1,514 grants totaling more than $876 million across the tobacco region of the Commonwealth, and has made available nearly $309 million in indemnification payments to tobacco growers and quota holders. For information on the Commission’s history, mission, funding programs and recent awards, visit its website at www.tic.virginia.govor call toll free 877-897-1086.

“Considering the economic times we are in, it is refreshing to see 28 new jobs being added to the area of Wise County, and the $3 million investment will help our economy expand,” said Virginia Senator Bill Carrico. “This is a step heading in the right direction to seeing Southwest Virginia grow.”

Due to the expansion, the Norton operation will have an additional 400,000 board feet of kiln capacity, representing a 20 percent increase in the facility’s overall production.

“We’re grateful to the Virginia Tobacco Commission for having confidence in us and for our Norton employees, who are very dedicated and have a strong work ethic,” stated Neil Poland, president of Mullican Flooring. “Right now, housing starts are up 21.5 percent, which is a good sign. We want to remain poised to meet the market demands of builders and developers as the American economy continues to improve.”

Only solid hardwood flooring is manufactured at the Norton plant, and the various Mullican products involved in the expansion include the company’s Knob Creek, Chatelaine, Muirfield, Castillian and St. Andrews collections.

In late 2011, Mullican announced the purchase of its current 309,000-square-foot headquarters located at 655 Woodlyn Road in Johnson City, Tenn., where a segment of the company’s engineered products, formerly made in Asia, are now being manufactured.

“The changes over the past year to our finishing capacity in Johnson City have played a key role in our ability to increase production at Norton,” Poland noted. “By the end of 2012, we will have added more than 100 new jobs in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee, and we remain committed to growing production volume and employment at all our facilities.”

Poland also stressed that consumers are continuing to favor hardwood flooring over other floor covering options and that “future demand will increase as housing rebounds toward more normal levels of housing starts.”