Stephens Media LLC announced today they would be expanding their printing operations by moving all printing and mailroom operations from their Fort Smith and Van Buren production facilities to Northwest Arkansas Newspaper production facilities in Springdale and Lowell.

The move will increase the color capacity of the newspapers and improve packaging and mailroom efficiency.

Stephens Media and WEHCO Media of Little Rock jointly own the Northwest Arkansas production facilities.

The project will be completed in two phases, first moving the weekly newspaper operations from the Van Buren production plant, followed several weeks later with the Times Record. All operations will be moved by early September 2014.

The Times Record is currently printed at 1000 Rogers Avenue in downtown Fort Smith. Ed Moss, President and CEO of Stephens Media, said "With our partnership in northwest Arkansas, and the newer production equipment in use there, we saw this as an opportunity to upgrade production capacity of the Times-Record."

The downtown production facility was built in the 1960’s. It is near the Courtyard by Marriott Fort Smith Downtown. There is also a new police station, jail and courts building all within a few blocks of the production plant. The downtown plant will be offered for sale.

The outsourcing will affect a total of approximately 37 employees. Severance packages and job assistance will be provided to affected employees. There will also be several positions available in Fort Smith and northwest Arkansas that will be offered to current employees. "It’s always difficult to lose good people in a situation like this," Tom Stallbaumer, Publisher of the Times Record noted.