Why? Mississippi

Bill Cork, Executive Director, Mississippi Development Authority, shares how the Magnolia State supports speed-to-market through ready sites, workforce training, and strategic location.

By BF Editors
From the March/April 2024 Issue

 

Business Facilities: Tell us about the status of economic development in Mississippi.

Bill Cork: Mississippi is on one the most successful economic development runs in the state’s history. In January of this year alone, we secured three commitments from companies creating more than 3,070 jobs and nearly $12 billion in new investments. Companies and site selectors are increasingly wanting to be a part of the monumental growth taking place in Mississippi. Governor Tate Reeves is leading the way for our state, as we are competing at the highest level for some of the largest and best projects currently seeking new locations and expansions.

Bill Cork, Executive Director, Mississippi Development Authority, Mississippi economic development
Bill Cork, Executive Director, Mississippi Development Authority
BF: Why should companies consider Mississippi for their next relocation or expansion?

Cork: Mississippi’s strategic location provides efficient access to major domestic and international markets, which is typically a requirement for companies that prioritize speed to market. We have some of the best industrial parks and sites in the nation. And we are continually investing in them, so companies are ready to turn dirt as soon as they choose the best Mississippi location for their needs.

The state also does a great job of not overregulating, so again, speed to market is always top of mind here. We strive to get businesses online as quickly as realistically possible. Also, we offer an impressive portfolio of incentives, including a universal tax credit that companies can use however they best see fit. We also collaborate with state partners to prepare a workforce for the jobs of today and a generational workforce that will be ready to take on the jobs of the future.

Once companies discover Mississippi, they continue to grow and invest here, and the number of companies choosing to call our state home is growing exponentially.

Mississippi economic development
Population in Mississippi totaled more than 2.9 million in 2022 according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, with the capital city of Jackson, MS home to nearly 150,000. (Photo: Adobe Stock / SeanPavonePhoto)
BF: What are targeted or growth industries in 2024?

Cork: We work with companies in all sectors looking to locate or expand within the state. However, certain sectors make sense due to our plentiful resources, strategic location, and base of existing companies. These targeted areas include Aerospace, Defense, Automotive, Forestry, Energy, Chemicals, Logistics, and Advanced Manufacturing.

BF: Why is the Mississippi workforce ecosystem an asset to business?

Cork: Accelerate Mississippi is the workforce development organization for the state, through which many companies receive training solutions at no expense. They benefit from real-time labor market data, supply chain assistance, customized training resources, and stakeholder events. Our renowned research universities and community college system also work hand-in-hand with Accelerate and with industry to prepare workers for new jobs and to upskill workers as jobs and technologies are continuously evolving.

Mississippi economic development
Mississippi invests significantly in its industrial parks and sites, so companies are ready to get to work and get goods to consumers swiftly and efficiently. Pictured here is Madison County Mega Site. (Photo: Madison County Economic Development Authority)
BF: Why is the state’s location and infrastructure advantageous to companies?

Cork: Mississippi is centrally located in the U.S. with a robust transportation network, including interstate and rail connectivity to other markets. This includes six interstate highways spanning 700 miles throughout the state; 80 publicly and privately owned airports; 2,500 miles of rail that includes CSX, CPKC, BNSF, and CN; and 800 miles of waterways that boast 15 ports, including two deep-water ports on the Gulf of Mexico. We like to say we are “halfway to everywhere” due to our prime location in the Southeast and access to major U.S. markets. Companies appreciate that by locating in Mississippi, they can rest assured their products will reach their consumers in record time.

BF: Why is the quality of life in the state of Mississippi desirable?

Cork: Mississippi has an outstanding quality of life and a rich cultural heritage, including its legacy as the “Birthplace of America’s Music.” We are home to numerous museums that profile Mississippi’s place in blues and rock ‘n’ roll history. Artists like Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others hailed from Mississippi, and a number of literary legends like Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, and playwright Tennessee Williams were born here.

“Once companies discover Mississippi, they continue to grow and invest here, and the number of companies choosing to call our state home is growing exponentially.”

— Bill Cork, Executive Director, Mississippi Development Authority

We also are home to early civil rights heroes like Medgar Evers and Fannie Lou Hamer, and their legacies are memorialized along our Civil Rights Trail and in museums honoring the prolific work that paved the way to equality for many Americans.

Also, Mississippi has a scenic Gulf Coast with beaches, recreational excursions, casinos, and various events. We also are known for our phenomenal cuisine, which is some of the best in the world, and can be enjoyed at many James Beard Award-winning restaurants, local joints, and other unique eateries dotting the state’s landscape.

Our housing costs are 40% lower than the national average, and that’s certainly a desirable aspect of Mississippi’s quality of life.

BF: Why is the future bright for business in Mississippi?

Cork: While Mississippi was known as one of the early trailblazers in state economic development, in the past we saw a lot of other states receive growth. However, our proactive efforts to develop sites and market to industries tipped the scales in our favor. In recent years, we have seen explosive growth and a dramatic increase in market demand. We’ve capitalized on that demand and landed some of the largest, most competitive projects looking for opportunities to grow. In partnership with Gov. Reeves and our economic development partners throughout the state, we are well positioned for continued exponential growth.

Owl’s Head Alloys Will Invest Over $29M In Mississippi

The aluminum processing company will locate new operations in West Point, Mississippi, creating 68 jobs. Plus, Mississippi invests nearly $1M in site development. Read more…
BF: What is your vision for the state’s economic development path?

Cork: Product. Product. Product. Mississippi wins not only because of our people but also because of our forward-thinking efforts to ensure sites are shovel-ready for industry expansions—so that companies can get their products to markets around the world as quickly as possible. We actually like to operate by the creed, “Speed, Risk and Money”—three crucial elements to successful economic growth.

In securing recent deals for the Amazon Web Services data center project and EV battery joint venture, we saw firsthand that our investments in sites and infrastructure paved the way for the biggest economic development wins in state history. Our vision is to put more dollars into sites and site readiness and have the best offerings anywhere in the country when companies are seeking new locations or expansion opportunities.

Check out all the latest news related to Mississippi economic development, corporate relocation, corporate expansion and site selection.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here