NCR expands operation into unused Cessna building, creating 100 jobs

National Cash Register Co. is expanding its Columbus manufacturing operation into the 100,000-square-foot former Cessna building in Muscogee Technology Park, bringing with it about 100 new jobs, chamber and NCR officials said Wednesday.The new manufacturing operation will make electronic point of sale systems for the retail restaurant and hospitality industry.

NCR opened its first Columbus plant in 2009, which now employs about 500, according to Rick Marquardt, senior vice president for global operations. The new plant will bring NCR closer to the commitment the company made to the city and Georgia that year to bring 870 jobs to the area, he said.

In addition to the point of sale systems, which integrate all areas of sales and services for a business, NCR manufactures ATMs, self-service checkout systems and sales kiosks.

Marquardt said NCR looks at the new plant as an expansion of the 2009 operation rather than a new facility.

“It’s all part of the same plant,” Marquardt said. “We don’t think of it as a new plant. It’s just an opportunity to keep from tearing up our campus and building another 100,000 square feet. We took advantage of this building that is turn-key and pristine.”

NCR opened its old plant, which is its sole manufacturing site in North America, in 2009 in a 340,000-square-foot former battery plant in Corporate Ridge, about five miles from the new facility.

Becca Hardin, the Chamber of Commerce’s executive vice president for economic development, said NCR’s expansion is a result of local leaders being willing to work with the company.

“NCR’s partnership with the city of Columbus has been a benchmark model for bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States,” Hardin said. “The success NCR has had has helped put our city in the international economic arena.”

Marquardt said part of the success NCR has had in Georgia is due to the state’s technical college system’s Quick Start training program. The program at Columbus Technical College has tailor-made a curriculum to train workers specifically for the new NCR plant, he said.

“They’re training our people before they even hit the factory floor,” he said. “It’s been a great asset to us. I give those people a lot of free advertising because I believe it’s one of the best in the country.”

NCR is a global technology company that manufactures systems for the retail, financial, travel, hospitality, entertainment and public sectors. It is headquartered in Duluth, Ga., a northern suburb of Atlanta, having relocated there from Dayton, Ohio.

Cessna employed about 600 here in August 2008 as it opened the new $25 million plant in Muscogee Technology Park. At the time, the company said it planned to add 150 jobs over five years. But with the aerospace industry hitting the skids, the company began to lay off workers steadily, culminating with its December 2009 declaration that it would be closing the Columbus operation within months.