By the BF Staff
From the September/October 2016 Issue
Adams County, Mississippi has become the first certified ACT® Work Ready Community (WRC) in the state. After a year of trying, the American Council on Testing officially let community leaders know their work had paid off.
Being an ACT WRC will empower Adams County to help drive economic growth. Participating in the initiative allows it to identify skill gaps and quantify workforce skill level. This can help educators build career pathways aligned to the needs of business and industry while also helping to offer recognition for the community’s workforce development efforts.
The National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC™) offered by the program is an assessment-based credential issued at four levels—Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. It rates how well examinees demonstrate foundational skills associated with jobs in the ACT database.
According to the ACT WRC website, “Adams County is a certified ACT Work Ready Community demonstrating they have the partnerships in place that support a robust workforce development.” The site also shows that Adams County has achieved 384 NCRCs—115 bronze, 224 silver and 45 gold.
A number of other counties in Mississippi are participating in the ACT WRC program and some are getting very close to reaching the level of certification (e.g., Tunica and Sunflower counties). Until then Adams County stands alone and is wished much success.
THE MISSISSIPPI ADVANTAGE
Mississippi continues to ensure its business-friendly environment encourages more companies to call the state home or expand existing footprints. In February 2016, the state celebrated a landmark day in economic development success, with Continental Tire the Americas, LLC announcing $1.45 billion in new investments and 2,500 new jobs. Additionally, three new gantry cranes valued at $30 million at the Port of Gulfport further strengthen the state’s already impressive infrastructure. These accolades and advances prove the Mississippi advantage is unlike any other.
Continental Tire’s decision to locate in Central Mississippi was named the No.1 economic development project in the Southeast for the winter 2016 quarter. The tire manufacturing plant will help to significantly reinforce Mississippi’s leadership position in the Southern Automotive Corridor.
Following the historic announcement, the Mississippi Legislature passed the Corporate Franchise Tax Phase Out and the Mississippi Works Fund legislation. These two significant pieces of legislation further encourage corporate competitiveness and expansion.
The Corporate Franchise Tax Phase Out diminishes the state’s corporate franchise tax over a 10-year period starting in 2018. The law reduces the current $2.50 tax for each $1,000 of capital by $.25 a year until a complete phase out in 2027. The phase out also includes an exemption on the first $100,000 of capital.
The Mississippi Works Fund legislation allocates $50 million over 10 years for workforce training. The state’s highly-ranked community college system can now enhance customized training programs to more effectively meet the needs of companies and prepare more Mississippians for in-demand careers. Seventy-five percent of the funds are allocated toward new job creation, while 25 percent of the funds are allocated for existing workforce training and workforce certification.
The Corporate Franchise Tax Phase Out and Mississippi Works Fund initiative join an extensive portfolio of existing state business incentives, making Mississippi’s pro-business climate second to none. A testament to this is the reacquisition of Chiquita to the Port of Gulfport.
In 2014, Chiquita relocated its shipping operations to New Orleans following more than 40 years at the Port of Gulfport. While in New Orleans, the company maintained ripening storage operations in Mississippi. The benefits of doing business at the Port of Gulfport outweighed the benefits of their existing location, however, and the company announced the return of its shipping operations to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in July 2016.
Chiquita’s new lease with the Port of Gulfport is for an initial term of 40 years, through 2056. The company will return to its previous location in the North Harbor of the port, while expanding into a new terminal, encompassing a total of 32 acres—more than double what the company previously occupied.
Chiquita’s return demonstrates the Port of Gulfport’s impressive capacity for companies with international shipping needs. Situated in a prime transportation hub, this deepwater port is one step closer to completing its ‘Port of the Future’ restoration project with the recent addition of three gantry cranes. Each crane can operate a safe limit of up to 65 tons and work in tandem if necessary. Classified as “post Panamax,” the massive cranes can handle the workload of even the largest vessels traveling through the Panama Canal. The robust infrastructure, prime location and addition of the cranes ensure the Port of Gulfport is positioned to be a major global seaport.
Mississippi also has celebrated other economic development successes in 2016, including BPI Packaging, LLC, which announced plans to invest $8 million and create 150 jobs in Olive Branch. The Memphis-based, privately held contract manufacturer provides full-service custom chemical blending and packaging for a wide mix of Fortune 500, mid- and smaller-sized companies.
In North Mississippi, furniture manufacturer Southern Motion announced plans to expand in the region, investing $20 million and creating 600 additional jobs. The company’s new location includes 64.5 acres and a 758,000-square-foot facility. Southern Motion currently employs 250 in Baldwyn, Miss., and 1,200 in Pontotoc, Miss. Southern Motion’s expansion further solidifies the state’s position as the top upholstered furniture manufacturer in the U.S.
With a strong incentives portfolio, a business-friendly environment, low operating costs, robust infrastructure and an ever-growing skilled workforce, industry leaders from around the U.S. and around the world continue to find their competitive edge in Mississippi.
TENN-TOM: THE BUSINESS WATERWAY
The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (commonly referred to as the Tenn-Tom) is a 234-mile waterway that connects 17 states to the Gulf of Mexico and the world. Providing access to more than 16,000 miles of navigable, inland waterways in the United States, it is the shortest distance from mid-America to the Port of Mobile located in the heart of the Gulf of Mexico. It is a shortcut. The boating distance from Knoxville, Tennessee to the Gulf of Mexico is reduced by more than 665 miles by using the Tenn-Tom. The Tenn-Tom has available capacity and it is looking to open new business and industry along the waterway.
With shovel ready industrial sites available and state and local economic development organizations ready to assist, the Tenn-Tom can accommodate any company interested in locating on the waterway. Communities along the Tenn-Tom are business friendly and offer great incentives to locate in their areas along with a skilled and available workforce. Recent announcements have credited this attitude and willingness to work with site selection developers, along with location on the Tenn-Tom, as key factors that persuaded them to choose a site on the Tenn-Tom. It is home to some of the nation’s largest steel manufacturers, including Steel Dynamics, U.S. Steel and most recently, Mississippi Silicon.
The steel industry is only one example of those taking advantage of the Tenn-Tom and its regional resources. Located in the “wood basket of the nation,” the Tenn-Tom provides access to over 34 million acres of commercial forests, and approximately two-thirds of all recoverable coal reserves are found in the region. These industries have, and are, realizing the benefits of waterborne transportation.
By using the waterway, manufacturers take advantage of the most energy-efficient, safest and environmentally friendly mode of transportation. Industry can ship more cargo using less energy with lower emissions while saving dollars. With less trucks on the highways, the roads are much safer, and better for the environment due to less accidents and spills. These cost saving advantages are not only important to you as an investor but also to your global customers and to everyone as consumers of these products.
The Tenn-Tom serves a full range of public ports and terminals throughout the region that provide a full range of intermodal services and warehousing. With a standing Memorandum of Understanding with the Panama Canal, the Tenn-Tom is uniquely positioned to serve an increasing trade market with the world’s foreign markets. The expanded Panama Canal, completed in June 2016, will drive more trade in the Gulf and the Eastern Seaboard. The Port of Mobile has a world class 850,000 TEU container port already in operation and, this along with the Tenn-Tom’s designation as a Marine Corridor (M-65) by the United States Department of Transportation, makes the waterway “shovel ready” for Containers-on-Barge. Once established, containers on barge can go up the connecting Tennessee River to Paducah, Kentucky and markets beyond.
With unlimited recreational opportunities, the waterway has become a way of life. Boating, sport fishing, hunting and camping are some of the ways that people use the Tenn-Tom. The “Loopers” use it for their sojourns thru mid-America across to the Eastern Seaboard, around Florida and back to the Gulf. Bass and crappie tournaments have drawn worldwide attention. With the mandated Wildlife Mitigation established in Alabama and Mississippi, hunting along the Tenn-Tom is prime territory. Nine campgrounds/parks—most equipped with all the necessary hook-ups—allows one to enjoy the outdoors while still having the conveniences that Americans have grown accustomed to.
With all this available as a draw to the region, it is not surprising that an eager and ample workforce is available in an enviable business climate.
Billions of dollars have been invested in the Tenn-Tom corridor and much more is on the way. For more information, please contact the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority at 888-Tenn-Tom or visit www.tenntom.org.
PEOPLE ARE GREENWOOD, MS
The Mississippi Delta is as much a personality as it is a place. In the Delta, they don’t gossip, they just know everybody’s business. And it’s not because they’re nosy, it’s just because they care. When those rolling hills flatten out, the world lays out in front of you. You can see nothing for miles, yet feel nestled in the warmest of places. When there’s a birth or a death, a victory or a loss, you can count on your Delta neighbors to multiply joys and divide your sorrows.
Greenwood is the perfect slice of everything Delta. From mythical legends like Robert Johnson to living legends like Fred Carl, Greenwood has rocked the world of the blues and business alike. From paper plates to linen tablecloths, the culinary delights of Greenwood are second to none. From Tallahatchie Flats to The Alluvian, Greenwood boasts hospitality that is both down-home and world-class. From work to play, pickups to pinstripes, authentic to up-scale, Greenwood offers all these things in abundance. Greenwood is like no other place on earth: a place of culture, passion, resilience and diversity; a place of commonalities and contradictions; a place so unique, so authentic, it will make total sense when you hear them say, “that’s so Delta.”
It only takes 15 minutes in Greenwood and the Delta to recognize a profound truth: the people here are some of the best in the world. They are friendly, helpful and courteous. In a word, they are genuine. In today’s rough and tumble world of business and economic development, that personal touch can get lost, but not in the Delta, and certainly not in Greenwood, Mississippi. In Greenwood that individualized personal touch is alive and well.
Greenwood is full of successful business stories from Viking to Staplcotn, to Milwaukee Electric Tool and the list could go on and on. Greenwood and the Delta do business differently…it’s a downhome, personal approach to economic development. Every progressive place boasts certified industrial parks and shovel-ready development sites. Greenwood is no exception, but they also boast something far more unique and far more profound: a place for your business to call home. Why else have successful companies chosen to call Greenwood home? Precisely because Greenwood is everything “home” implies: a caring community, a sense of belonging, the ability to make a difference, and a great place to raise a family.
Greenwood is a great place for business, but it is an even better place for something far more important: life. Enjoy life lived better, experience Greenwood, Mississippi…and the Delta difference.