By BF Editors
From the July/August 2022 Issue
From an agricultural perspective Mississippi is best known for producing more than half of the country’s farm-raised catfish. Sweet potatoes, poultry/eggs, soybeans, corn, cotton and pulpwood are also among the top items the state produces. In fact, agriculture is Mississippi’s top industry.
This $8.8 billion dollar sector employs more than 17% of the state’s workforce. A recent count showed there were well over 34,000 farms in the state, covering 10.4 million acres.
But this southeastern state located alongside the Mississippi River is also attracting a wide range of businesses due to low cost of doing business, access to key markets, streamlined regulations, and a talented workforce. The Magnolia State is home to advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and IT companies who are drawn to Mississippi, in part, to the low cost of living (nearly 20% below the national average) and affordable talent.
More than 20 colleges and universities can be found in the state, and workforce and advanced training opportunities are something state officials take seriously. For example, some $50 million was earmarked for investing in job creation and training between 2016 and 2026.
Mississippi has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the U.S, and offers a variety of incentives, as well as loans and grants for minority and small businesses. Companies such as Milwaukee Tool, Tyson, Toyota, Nissan, Walmart, and Entergy are among the state’s major employers.
From a transportation and logistics view, the state’s highways, commercial airports, railways and ports give businesses located here easy access to major markets, both domestic and international.
Mississippi: In Your Sights
The Mississippi Development Authority, following Governor Tate Reeves’ direction, is working across the state of Mississippi to provide premier shovel-ready sites to prepare for a full range of industries.
“Shovel-ready sites are a top priority for companies seeking a new location,” said Governor Tate Reeves. “By investing in these sites today, we are laying a foundation upon which companies can quickly locate, expand and create jobs for future generations of Mississippians.”
Mississippi, through its Site Development Grant Program, is investing nearly $25 million in site development projects throughout the state. The funds, which are made available through MDA, Appalachian Regional Commission and the RESTORE Act, are assisting local economic development entities in their efforts to spur economic growth by attracting new industry to competitive, shovel-ready sites.
“Mississippi is an ideal place to do business, and the further development of a range of industrial sites is yet another attribute we can add to our strong portfolio of competitive business advantages,” said Mississippi Development Authority Deputy Executive Director Laura Hipp.
A team of economic development leaders are creating the perfect welcome mat in Jones County, MS, through the Site Development Grant Program. The 446-acre I-59 South site has received $553,600 for site development work thus far. With this grant and the matching funds from the Economic Development Authority of Jones County, access roads are under construction, along with the clearing much of the site. All utilities are run to the site and all due diligence is completed. This exemplifies Mississippi Development Authority and Governor Reeves’ understanding of preparing for opportunities.
“Programs like this are a prime example of how we are responsive to industry needs. We are a partner that helps businesses succeed,” said Hipp.
Mississippi Development Authority recently awarded funding for 13 sites in the program’s Ready Sites and Premier Sites categories.
Ready Sites require a minimum of 20 highly developable acres, and the site must be work-ready within six months and capable of having utilities on site within 12 months. Rail-served sites and sites with airport or port access are preferred. Ready Sites are eligible to receive up to $50,000 in funding.
Premier Sites require a minimum of 100 acres and must have attributes that distinguish it from other properties. Rail-served sites and sites with airport or port access are preferred. Premier Sites are eligible to receive up to $250,000 in funding.
In addition to the I-59 South Site, Mississippi Development Authority also has committed funds for six sites through the agency’s Select Sites category, which increases the number of highly competitive industrial sites that are available and ready to meet prospective companies’ needs.
“We are preparing for growth and opportunities that will help all Mississippians. Industry leaders who are ready to discover the pro-business and strong logistical network of our state just need to visit to see for themselves all the wonderful amenities,” said Hipp.
Hinds County: Ready And Open For Business
Many people may not know there is a metro in Mississippi beaming with opportunity and resources ready for their project. This community features two major interstates, rail, two Entergy Qualified sites, a population of more than 230,000, and seven four-year universities. This area is ready and open for business. Hinds County is the star of the state of Mississippi, the home of the capital city, Jackson.
Jackson and Hinds County have all the resources to attract new capital and host expansion of industries. Those resources include two interstates: Interstate 55, which runs from Chicago through Memphis toward New Orleans and Interstate 20, which runs from South Carolina to Texas, passing cities like Atlanta and Dallas. The population reach of these two interstates is more than 30 million people, almost 10% of the entire U.S. population.
Rail is available at several sites within the county. The county is proud to have two airports, the Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport and Hawkins Field. Both operate within FAA guidelines and are ready to serve new businesses on site that will support both travelers and businesses throughout Central Mississippi. Hinds County also has two Entergy Qualified Sites and many greenfield and buildings available for new businesses development or expansions.
The Hinds County Economic Development Authority is ready to take workforce development, business recruitment and expansion to the next level. It has both a CEcD and a Certified Workforce Development Professional (CWDP) on staff. The CWDA is a nationally recognized workforce development professional, who took the lead on obtaining the ACT Work Ready Certification for Hinds County. The workforce professional works with training professionals in the region to create customized training for any company. They have access to training, students, and manufacturing companies so once the students complete their certificate or degrees, that can get a good paying job locally. This area is working to strengthen the pipeline from kindergarten to job for all citizens in the county. Hinds County Economic Development Authority’s CEcD currently serves on the IEDC Board of Directors in addition to settling in the role of Executive Director.
With abundant opportunity, the Hinds County Economic Development Authority is ready for a variety of projects. Because of the county’s wealth of resources, like interstate and rail access, Hinds County, MS, is destined to become the logistics and distribution pillar of the south providing efficient speed to market. The healthcare industry is poised to expand as COVID becomes an endemic. The state of Mississippi is offering new companies looking to expand the health care systems in Hinds County a special incentive to locate within the county limits. Other target industries include aviation, automotive suppliers, alternative energy sources, and integrated building systems.