Area Development
{{RELATEDLINKS}}Workforce development is critical to a state’s economic development mission. This is particularly true when it comes to Mississippi’s expanding aerospace industry, which was launched in the 1930s when Pioneer Aerospace, a part of Zodiac Aerospace, began manufacturing parachute systems in the state. After decades of continued growth, Mississippi is now home to more than 20 aerospace leaders as well as NASA’s Stennis Space Center.

State officials collaborate with companies and Mississippi’s 15 community colleges to tailor workforce-training programs to meet specific company needs. When GE Aviation announced the opening of its 300,000-square-foot facility in Batesville, Miss., in 2008, company officials cited a successful working relationship with the state and its universities as key to its location decision. The company collaborated with Northwest Community College to train workers in the sophisticated skills necessary to manufacture composite parts for GE’s GEnx jet engine, including fan platforms and fan case assembly.

In 2013, GE Aviation expanded to meet global demand. Based on the success of its Batesville location, Ellisville became the company’s second location in the state, and the company invested $56 million to employ 250 workers at its 344,000-square-foot composites manufacturing facility. GE Aviation partnered with Jones County Junior College for workforce training and credits the success of its Mississippi operations to its partnership with the state’s community colleges. These institutions offer programs of particular interest to aerospace companies, including aviation maintenance technology, avionics, and unmanned aircraft systems.

“GE Aviation’s growing partnership with the state of Mississippi is creating long-term economic growth,” said David Joyce, president and CEO of GE Aviation at the opening of the Ellisville facility. “We couldn’t be happier with our Batesville operation, and we look forward to the growth of our new Ellisville operation.”

Mississippi’s nine public universities also play a vital role in research and development. Established in 1948, the Raspet Flight Research Laboratory at Mississippi State University is the largest university flight lab of its kind in the U.S., and its business incubator provides an economical start-up facility for companies like GE Aviation, Aurora Flight Sciences, and Stark Aerospace.

It’s no wonder that the companies located in Mississippi’s aerospace corridor continue to grow. In fact, 2013 and 2014 have yielded significant expansion for Raytheon, Rolls-Royce, General Atomics, and Aurora Flight Sciences.