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Location Notebook: Advanced Manufacturing Key to Mississippi’s Economy

Mississippi is taking steps to ensure its growing advanced manufacturing sector can fulfill its need for a skilled workforce.

Q3 2016
Manufacturing is critical to Mississippi. The Mississippi Department of Labor reports manufacturing industries generated $2.1 trillion in GDP (12.5 percent of total U.S. GDP) in 2013, the latest figure available. Some 143,500 workers are now employed in manufacturing jobs across the state.

Consequently, the state is fine-tuning its manufacturing base and fostering its role in advanced manufacturing. The effort includes its new Mississippi Works Fund and the gradual elimination of the state’s franchise tax.

The Mississippi Works Fund, established this year, allots $10 million for workforce training for 2016 and $5 million each following year. Of its funds, 75 percent are earmarked specifically for job creation. The Mississippi Development Authority has the ability to direct these funds as part of recruitment and expansion efforts.

“The fund is designed with a preference for working through the community college system, but it also has dollars available for direct use by employer programs,” explains Blake Wilson, president/CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council, the state chamber of commerce.

Advanced Manufacturing/Educational Partnerships

Mississippi’s educational institutions are helping to grow its advanced manufacturing sector through training as well as research and development initiatives.
  1. Yokohama Tire Facility

    West Point, MS

    Yokohama Tire Facility provides a prime example of how the local college has developed and implemented an advanced manufacturing training program to meet the needs of a new company in the state.

  2. Nissan

    Canton, MS

    Central Mississippi is home to Nissan, the state’s first automotive original equipment manufacturer.

  3. Continental Tire the Americas, LLC

    Hinds County, MS

    In February, Continental Tire the Americas, LLC, announced it was locating a commercial vehicle tire manufacturing plant near Clinton, in the state’s central Hinds County.

  4. hago Automotive

    Iuka, MS

    hago Automotive is investing $10 million and creating 80 new jobs in new operations at Yellow Creek Port.

  5. East Mississippi Community College

    Scooba, MS

    EMCC trains new Yokohama employees in tolerances, hydraulics, and general dimensioning.

  6. Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems

    Starkville, MS

    The Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems operated by Mississippi State is an interdisciplinary center comprised of research, engineering design and development, and technology transfer teams for industry and government partners.


    Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence

    Starkville, MS

    The Federal Aviation Administration has named the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence, led by Mississippi State University, as a Center of Excellence for unmanned aerial systems.

  7. Center for Manufacturing Excellence

    Oxford, MS

    The Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi is developing interdisciplinary educational opportunities within an innovative academic learning model providing students with the practical experiences, fundamental knowledge, and creative skillsets needed to lead the world of modern manufacturing.

  8. Mississippi Polymer Institute

    Hattiesburg, MS

    The Mississippi Polymer Institute at the University of Southern Mississippi provides commercial development, rapid prototyping, and testing services to Mississippi companies.


    University of Southern Mississippi

    Hattiesburg, MS

    The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg offers cutting-edge nanotechnology both commercially and academically, working collaboratively with state and local entities and the federal government.

Tax Relief
Mississippi’s gradual elimination of its corporate franchise tax, a plan crafted under Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, is part of the state’s largest tax cut in its history. “The idea is to make Mississippi more competitive in attracting businesses and make companies here more competitive,” says Reeves. “Eliminating the franchise tax provides greater incentive for businesses to locate or stay in Mississippi.”

Consequently, officials now see Mississippi as being better equipped to compete for advanced manufacturing projects nationally and globally. Case in point: This year hago Automotive, Parker Hannifin, BMSI, Continental Tire, and TopShip announced plans to expand or relocate in Mississippi.

Bringing Workers Up to Speed
The automotive sector is vital to Mississippi’s economy. The state is home to Toyota and Cooper Tire in the northeast. Yokohama Tire, Steel Dynamics, and PACCAR are located about an hour to the south. Central Mississippi is home to Nissan, the state’s first automotive original equipment manufacturer. In total, there are nearly 200 automotive suppliers in the state.

Mississippi’s Yokohama Tire Facility in West Point provides a prime example of how the local college has developed and implemented an advanced manufacturing training program to meet the needs of a new company in the state. Applicants must complete a Mississippi basic manufacturing certification recognized by local industry and administrated by East Mississippi Community College’s (EMCC) Workforce Division. In addition, EMCC trains new Yokohama employees in tolerances, hydraulics, and general dimensioning.

In February, Continental Tire the Americas, LLC, announced it was locating a commercial vehicle tire manufacturing plant near Clinton, in the state’s central Hinds County. Its multimillion-square-foot facility represents an investment of $1.45 billion and will create 2,500 new jobs. Construction of the facility is slated to begin in January 2018.

Finding skilled workers to fulfill the company’s advanced manufacturing processes will be critical. Among the skills Continental needs are mechanical, electric and electronic maintenance, mechatronics, and robotics. Therefore, to help educate and fine tune workers’ skills, Continental plans to take advantage of Mississippi’s network of community colleges.

“Given the amount of technical positions that will be required, we intend on reaching out to local universities, colleges, and technical schools and building relationships with them to fill these positions,” says Grant Bovim, project leader of Continental’s Clinton plant.

Continental currently works with Hinds County Community College on developing training courses to provide skilled personnel for the new plant. “As preparation to this, they have visited two of our plants in the United States,” Bovim says. “These visits allowed them to gain insight into our processes, which will allow them to create courses that will ensure our skill sets are met.”

In northern Mississippi, Germany-based hago Automotive is investing $10 million and creating 80 new jobs in new operations at Yellow Creek Port in Iuka. While the company located to Iuka for a host of reasons (one being a readily available building meeting its needs), Joerg Goeppert, president and CEO, anticipates little difficulty in finding motivated, reliable individuals to work with its advanced machines and tools. Nonetheless, “it takes several years to be an expert,” Goeppert says. Consequently, hago plans to commence a training program with the Northeast Mississippi Community College and offer workers the opportunity to train at its parent company in Germany as well.

The company, which will begin hiring next year, will perform the following for its customers: automated stamping with up to 400 tons of processing power, transfer stamping with up to 630 tons of pressing power, several laser-welding applications, parts washing and cleaning, parts processing, and the production of assemblies.

Research & Development
In addition to having an outstanding community college system, which partners with business and industry to design and implement specialized training programs that are flexible and scalable, Mississippi also has four research universities — the University of Southern Mississippi, Jackson State University, the University of Mississippi, and Mississippi State University — which help to advance its automotive, aerospace, and other advanced manufacturing sectors. For example:
  • The Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems operated by Mississippi State is an interdisciplinary center comprised of research, engineering design and development, and technology transfer teams for industry and government partners.
  • The Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi is developing interdisciplinary educational opportunities within an innovative academic learning model providing students with the practical experiences, fundamental knowledge, and creative skillsets needed to lead the world of modern manufacturing.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration has named the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence, led by Mississippi State University, as a Center of Excellence for unmanned aerial systems.
  • The Mississippi Polymer Institute at the University of Southern Mississippi provides commercial development, rapid prototyping, and testing services to Mississippi companies.
  • The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg offers cutting-edge nanotechnology both commercially and academically, working collaboratively with state and local entities and the federal government. “The state’s goal is to develop a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with companies to help industries remain profitable and to keep employment opportunities growing,” Wilson concludes.
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