Most people know Mississippi for its music, its food and its Southern hospitality. But not many know that the state is home to burgeoning industries that add millions of dollars to the economy and employ thousands of residents.
It takes nearly five hours to drive the 325 miles from Hancock County, Miss., on the state’s coast to Blue Springs, Miss., near the Tennessee line. Between those two places are aerospace and automotive companies known all over the world—industries that call Mississippi home.
Mississippi’s strong business climate has attracted companies that build everything from cars to rockets, as well as all the parts that go with them.
The state has six interstates, 14 U.S. highways, three navigable waterways, 15 ports, five Class-1 railroads and seven commercial airports, giving companies convenient access to domestic and international markets. Mississippi also boasts competitive energy rates, a low cost of living and a skilled workforce.
These are only a few of the reasons aerospace and automotive companies decided to locate in the Magnolia State.
Aerospace Industry Flies High in the State
For a number of years, every commercial airplane in the world has had at least one component made in Mississippi. The state also is home to the nation’s largest rocket engine test complex—NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Hancock County.
Mississippi is home to some of the world’s most renowned names in aerospace: GE Aviation, Airbus Helicopters, Rolls-Royce, Lockheed Martin and Relativity Space, just to name a few. All of these companies rely on the state’s skilled and productive workforce and comprehensive workforce training, supportive business environment, strategic location, low startup and operations costs and cutting-edge research and development.
One example is SpaceX, a commercial spaceflight company that began its rocket engine testing program at Stennis Space Center. The SpaceX Raptor engine development program is the latest in propulsion technology and produces the largest methane/LOX engines in U.S. history.
SpaceX upgraded the E-2 test stand at Stennis, and it now is one of the most sophisticated high-pressure testing facilities in the world. This stand will remain the property of Stennis Space Center for future government and commercial use.
Three companies in the state manufacture unmanned aircraft systems (UAS): Aurora Flight Sciences, Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems and Stark Aerospace. The Mississippi Development Authority works with these companies, as well as public partners, to further research and test these unmanned aerial systems in the state.
Mississippi has a wealth of expertise in UAS research, development and testing. For example, Camp Shelby, a state-owned military facility, currently is working with public and private customers to provide UAS testing opportunities.
Mississippi’s universities and community colleges also are involved with aerospace companies. Raspet Flight Research Laboratory at Mississippi State University is the public sponsor of a Certificate of Authorization for flight testing of the Heron, a Stark Aerospace UAS. Raspet often locates research staff on-site to support engineering, design and flight testing of large-scale UAS with companies.
Hinds Community College’s UAV Pilot Training Program partners with Pearl River Community College and the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center. This program offers academic and hands-on curriculums and is available to both active military and civilians.
Mississippi doesn’t just provide a good business climate for aerospace companies; the state’s community colleges and universities offer customized training programs to meet companies’ specific needs. These programs equip employees with the skills they need to ensure the success of aerospace companies.
Mississippians now produce such things as helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and composite jet engine components.
Automotive Industry Continues to Expand
Mississippi also is at the forefront of the automotive industry, whether it is building cars or producing tires and other parts that go on them. With its well-developed infrastructure, central geographical location and strong business climate, Mississippi is the ideal location for today’s automotive companies. The state has a proven track record in the automotive industry, which continues to expand and thrive.
Currently, there are nine models of vehicles manufactured in Mississippi, and more than 500,000 vehicles are produced in the state each year. Mississippi also has more than 200 automotive-related manufacturers employing more than 20,000 skilled workers.
The state has two automobile manufacturers: Nissan and Toyota. Nissan opened its plant in Canton in 2003 and now produces several models. In 2014, the plant began producing the Nissan Murano at its Mississippi facility. This marked the first time the Murano was produced in the U.S.
Toyota is celebrating its 12th year in Blue Springs. The plant has 2,000 employees, and it is there that they assemble the ever-popular Toyota Corolla.
In addition to car manufacturers, Mississippi also has a number of companies that produce tires, as well as automotive parts. Some of these include Continental Tire, Yokohama Tire and Cooper Tire & Rubber.
Continental, the world’s fourth largest tire manufacturer, broke ground 10 months after announcing the tire maker was locating in Hinds County. The plant reflects an investment of $1.45 billion and is creating 2,500 new jobs.
Early in 2018, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company announced plans to locate its largest distribution center in Marshall County. The company is investing $50.5 million in the state and creating approximately 100 jobs.
Mississippi’s universities and community colleges also contribute to the success of automotive companies by training the workforce and providing research. The 15 community colleges offer 26,403 training classes and serve more than 550 companies with customized training solutions.
Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Partners Program works with industries across North Mississippi to train highly skilled electronics engineering technicians. The community college also provides paid interns from its Industrial Electronics Engineering Technology program.
The Center for Manufacturing Technology Excellence at East Mississippi Community College is an advanced technology training center used by businesses to conduct worker training. The center offers manufacturing skills certification classes, M3 Production-level certificates and skills training, as well as specialized training for companies.
Three of Mississippi’s research universities also play a vital role in economic and workforce development in the automotive industry. Mississippi State University houses the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, while the Center for Manufacturing Excellence is located at the University of Mississippi. The Mississippi Polymer Institute at the University of Southern Mississippi is a national leader in the study of composites, advanced materials, polymers and plastics.
Mississippi has the best environment for corporate growth and success for companies in the aerospace and automotive industries: strong incentives, a business-friendly environment, low operating costs, robust infrastructure and a skilled workforce. See how Mississippi can be part of your winning formula.
To join the growing list of industry leaders calling Mississippi home, visit Mississippi.org or call the Locate Mississippi team at 1-800-360-3323. T&ID
Through its robust portfolio of incentives programs, Mississippi meets the needs of today’s industries, giving them the competitive edge needed for long-term growth and success. The Mississippi Development Authority, with the support of the state Legislature, offers new and expanding companies throughout Mississippi a variety of grant and loan programs, in addition to tax incentives, which are customized to meet each project’s specific needs.
During the 2019 legislative session, the Mississippi Legislature passed several bills designed to further spur economic growth by assisting new industries as they locate to the state and existing industries as they expand. Legislators reduced the amount of capital investment and minimum number of jobs required for aerospace companies and data centers, both of which have a strong presence in Mississippi. Additionally, MDA is authorized to issue $3 million in bonds for site development improvements.
Economic Development Incentives
• More than $80 million available for public infrastructure and other project needs.
• $25 million investment, 25 jobs
° 10-year property tax abatement, 10-year exemption on state income and franchise taxes, tax exemption for building materials
• $60 million investment
° May qualify for fee in lieu of property taxes
Data Center Incentives
• $20 million investment, 20 jobs
° 10-year property tax abatement; 10-year exemption on state income and franchise taxes; sales tax exemption on electricity, construction and equipment
• $60 million investment
° May qualify for fee in lieu of property taxes
Gulf Coast Restoration Fund
• $600 million available for economic development
To learn more about the new legislation, go to mississippi.org/edge. For a full description of incentives, grants and loans available for businesses locating or expanding in the state, go to mississippi.org/locate-here/incentives.