By Jonathan Sanders
From the September/October 2014 issue
For companies to achieve success in today’s marketplace, they must have maintain a competitive advantage—and a number of global industry leaders are finding that advantage in Mississippi. The state’s low energy and operating costs, nationally ranked one-stop permitting process, customized incentives portfolio and highly skilled workforce combine to provide businesses with the strong, supportive business climate industries require to thrive. As a result, Mississippi has garnered a number of economic wins over the last year.
Direct foreign investment continues to play a big role in the state, which is known for its strategic, centralized location that provides easy access to many U.S. and international markets—allowing companies to efficiently distribute their products.
In May 2014, German-owned ISA TanTec announced the company was locating its first U.S. tannery operations in Vicksburg, MS. The company is recognized by the world’s top footwear brands, such as Timberland, Wolverine, Deckers, Clarks, Merrell, Sperry, Rockport, The North Face and New Balance, as a premium supplier of quality leathers. The project is a $10.1-million corporate investment that is creating 366 new jobs.
In September 2013, German company Feuer Powertrain GmbH, announced the company was locating its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Tunica, MS. A manufacturer of crankshafts for the automotive and transportation industries, Feuer’s scope of business includes machining and processing ready-for-installation crankshafts. Feuer is investing $140 million in its new manufacturing facility and creating 300 new jobs.
Another German company that selected a Mississippi location over the last 12 months is vehicle supplier GRAMMER Inc. GRAMMER Inc. is the U.S. subsidiary of GRAMMER AG, the leading supplier of automotive interiors and seating systems for commercial vehicles. The company’s location in Shannon, MS will serve as its U.S. headquarters. GRAMMER is investing $30 million in the project and creating 650 new jobs for Mississippi’s workforce.
Feuer and GRAMMER are the two newest companies to join an impressive list of global automotive manufacturers that already call Mississippi home, including Yokohama Tire Corp. (which is currently constructing a commercial truck tire plant in West Point), Nissan, Toyota, PACCAR and more than 200 automotive suppliers. In fact, when Nissan built its manufacturing facility in Canton, MS, more than a decade ago, it put Mississippi’s automotive manufacturing industry on the map, and now Mississippi is a leader in the Southern Automotive Corridor. Today, more than 6,000 Mississippians are engaged in the manufacture of seven of some of Nissan’s most popular models, and 2,000 Mississippians produce the world’s best-selling vehicle by volume, the Toyota Corolla, at Toyota’s manufacturing facility in Blue Springs. To date, more than 3.2 million vehicles have been produced in Mississippi.
Customized skills training and pride in a job well done comprise Mississippi’s workforce advantage. Global leaders have cited time and again the state’s workforce as their primary reason for choosing to locate or expand in Mississippi. To meet today’s workforce needs, advanced manufacturers have access to the robust training programs offered by the state’s 15 community colleges. These custom tailored workforce training programs equip Mississippi’s workforce with the necessary skills to ensure a quality product and a company’s success. Additionally, Mississippi’s four research universities provide access to world-class R&D opportunities in the automotive, aerospace, advanced manufacturing and health care industries. In Mississippi, innovation moves from the research lab to commercialization quickly through these strong partnerships.
Another aspect of Mississippi’s business environment—in addition to its prime location in the southeast U.S.—is its well-integrated transportation network and proximity to major U.S. markets. As a result, the state’s distribution industry is thriving, a recent example being the opening of Helen of Troy’s second north Mississippi distribution facility. Helen of Troy is a designer, developer and worldwide marketer of brand-name household, personal care and healthcare/home environment consumer products. The company’s new 1.3 million-square-foot facility is a $37 million corporate investment and created 300 new jobs for the residents of north Mississippi. The new distribution center is Helen of Troy’s second in the state; the company also operations a 1.2 million square foot facility in Southaven.
Another global leader than invested in Mississippi in the last year is ACCO Brands, who announced the addition of call center operations at its Booneville, MS, location—a project that is creating 162 new jobs. ACCO Brands Corporation is one of the largest suppliers of branded office products, including brands such as At-A-Glance, DAY-TIMER, Five Star, GBC, Hilroy, Kensington and Swingline.
These are just a few examples of global leaders that call Mississippi home. Rolls-Royce. GE Aviation. Northrop Grumman. ROXUL. BorgWarner. Caterpillar. The list goes on. An environment that supports growth is a top priority for Mississippi’s leaders, and the growing list of industry leaders choosing to grow in Mississippi is a testament to that. With shovel-ready sites and a highly skilled workforce, opportunities are abundant in Mississippi.
To learn more, visit www.mississippi.org or call the Locate in Mississippi team at 1-800-360-3323.