Expanded incentives are giving Mississippi a leg up on attracting leading-edge industries including clean energy, data centers and aerospace composites.
In the spring of 2010, the Mississippi Legislature passed—and Governor Haley Barbour signed into law—legislation containing new incentive programs to benefit three of the state’s target industry sectors: clean energy manufacturing, data centers and aerospace companies. According to the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), these sectors demonstrate the potential for significant growth in the state; therefore, the new incentive programs were created to complement the state’s existing menu of incentive programs.
The new legislation establishes the Mississippi Clean Energy Initiative, a program that allows MDA to certify companies that manufacture systems or components used to generate clean, renewable or alternative energy, including nuclear, solar, wind or hydro generation. This tax incentive program provides a 10-year exemption from state income and franchise taxes as well as a sales tax exemption to establish a plant or expand an existing production facility. To qualify, business entities must have a minimum investment of $50 million and create 250 full-time jobs.
Twin Creeks Technologies is the first company in the state to use the new Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative. In May, the company broke ground at the site of their new solar panel manufacturing facility in Sanatobia, MS.
“We are thrilled that Twin Creeks has chosen to locate its solar panel manufacturing facility, the first of its kind for Mississippi, in Senatobia,” said Gov. Barbour at the groundbreaking. “I am grateful for the company’s confidence in our state’s highly skilled workforce and business climate and for its investment in Mississippi.”
“Construction of Twin Creeks’ 100-megawatt solar manufacturing site is rapidly ramping up. We are delighted at the diligence and speed at which this project is progressing,” says Siva Sivaram, chairman and chief executive officer of Twin Creeks Technologies. “We are appreciative of working with Gov. Barbour and the Mississippi Development Authority on this project.”
From its new facility, Twin Creeks will use its proprietary technology to produce photovoltaic solar panels. The project will create 512 jobs in two phases; it represents a company investment of more than $175 million. Initially, the facility will be 80,000 square feet, with plans to quickly expand to 250,000 square feet.
Mississippi’s new incentives legislation provides for a state sales tax exemption for all computing equipment and software used for companies certified as data centers by MDA—both for new and replacement equipment. This certification will require a minimum investment of $50 million and the creation of 50 new jobs paying 150% of the average state wage.
Mississippi has established leadership in aerospace and aviation. The state is home to some of the industry’s most respected names, companies such as Alliant Techsystems (ATK), American Eurocopter, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Eaton Aerospace. The new legislation creates tax incentives to encourage companies that manufacture, assemble or provide research, development or training services in the aerospace industry to locate or expand in Mississippi. The incentive program provides a 10-year exemption from income and franchise taxes and a sales and use tax exemption for the start-up of the facility. To qualify, companies must make a minimum investment of $30 million and must create at least 100 full-time jobs.
Even before the new incentive was created, GE Aviation announced that it is expanding its operations in Batesville, MS.
The company’s Batesville plant produces composite components for the GEnx jet engine, which will power Boeing’s new 787 and 747-8 aircraft. The GEnx engine is the world’s only jet engine with composite fan blades, composite fan platforms and a composite fan case.
With the expansion, GE Aviation will add an additional 350 jobs over the next few years. The facility currently employs more than 100 employees.
“I am delighted that GE Aviation is expanding its operations in Mississippi and is adding 350 jobs at its Batesville facility,” says Gov. Barbour. “This premier aviation company has become a valued corporate citizen in Mississippi, and I commend it for its continued commitment to the state and for creating additional high-wage, high-skill jobs for Mississippians.”
The expansion will represent a company investment of approximately $85 million. The MDA provided $8.6 million in Momentum Mississippi incentives to assist with this project. In addition, Panola County provided $4 million to assist with the expansion.
“Our Batesville operation is involved in some of the most advanced manufacturing processes in the aviation industry,” says Jeanne Edwards, GE’s plant leader in Batesville. “Also, GE is very fortunate to have a strong order book for its new GEnx engine. Many of the technology advantages inherent in the GEnx engine are linked directly to the components produced in Batesville.”
“Mississippi is rapidly becoming known as a center for composite materials and technologies,” says Gray Swoope, executive director of the MDA. “I am proud that GE Aviation is utilizing our available resources and developing these materials and processes here in Mississippi, and I am pleased the company is working with Mississippi universities to further refine these technologies. GE Aviation’s decision to further invest in its Mississippi operations demonstrates its continued confidence in the state and in our workforce.”
Stark Aerospace also recently opened a new 86,000-square-foot facility in Columbus, MS. Stark’s new facility houses its corporate offices, along with their Unmanned Aerial Systems division and their Electro-Optics division. Mississippi is becoming a hotbed of activity for high-end, high-tech manufacturing.
Additional Incentives Ignite Growth in MS
In addition to these three new incentive programs benefiting specific sectors, the Mississippi Industry Incentive Financing Revolving Fund also was enacted this year. It provides the State bonding authority of $100 million for grants and loans to benefit companies making sizeable investments and creating significant numbers of jobs in the state. The fund was created to give the Mississippi Development Authority more flexibility in attracting large economic development projects to the state and has already played a role in bringing a number of major projects to the state. To take advantage of this program, companies must commit to creating at least 250 full-time jobs and investing at least $30 million (in Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties), must agree to create at least 250 full-time jobs and invest a minimum of $15 million (in Tier 3 counties), or must commit to creating at least 1,000 jobs.
Soladigm, a supplier of next-generation green building solutions, is one of the companies who recently benefited from the Mississippi Industry Incentive Financing Revolving Fund, along with the Momentum Mississippi. The company announced in July that it is locating manufacturing operations in Olive Branch, MS. The project represents a capital investment of more than $130 million by the company and will create more than 300 new jobs.
“I am delighted to welcome Soladigm to Mississippi,” Gov. Barbour said. “Soladigm’s decision to locate its first full-scale manufacturing facility in our state is a testament to the quality of our workforce. This project is just one more example of how companies worldwide are looking to Mississippi to build complex, high-tech products with well-trained employees.”
“Olive Branch is the perfect launch pad for bringing Soladigm’s dynamic glass to the world,” says Dr. Mulpuri. “The combination of Mississippi’s dedication to manufacturing, the proximity of our new plant to Memphis, the nation’s logistics and distribution hub, and Governor Barbour’s tremendous support were key factors in us determining to locate our first high volume manufacturing facility in Olive Branch. We are thrilled to be involved in a mutually beneficial endeavor, which will create jobs and prosperity for Mississippi, while helping us accelerate our production capabilities.”
From its plant in Olive Branch, Soladigm will produce highly energy-efficient dynamic insulated glass units. With the use of its proprietary manufacturing process, Soladigm’s glass can change from clear to tinted on demand, allowing unprecedented control over the amount of light and heat that enters a building. The company’s dynamic glass offers substantial reduction in energy consumption, resulting in reduced energy and maintenance costs, while creating an improved user experience in buildings by controlling glare and heat without obstructing the view.
“Soladigm’s decision to locate in Mississippi further demonstrates that Silicon Valley’s investment community recognizes the substantial benefits of doing business in the state,” says MDA’s Swoope. “Mississippi’s workforce has gained the confidence of innovative companies and industry leaders in a wide range of sectors, and we are pleased Soladigm has entrusted this new technology to our state’s capable and dedicated workforce.”