Mississippi Accelerates to the Forefront of the Automotive Industry
8 Jul, 2018By: Governor Phil Bryant
Mississippi accelerates to the forefront of the automotive industry by never taking its foot off the gas. Whether providing a highly skilled workforce or getting companies up and running with a quick permitting process, companies know Mississippi is proactive and pro-business. It’s no surprise how, in a little over a decade, more than 200 automotive-related manufacturers have located to the state, employ more than 20,000 skilled workers.
The state’s proven track record in the automotive industry continues to expand and thrive with both OEM and supplier growth. Thanks to the state’s highly efficient one-stop permitting process, Continental Tire broke ground just 10 months after announcing the tire maker was locating in Hinds County, Mississippi. The plant reflects an investment of $1.45 billion and creation of 2,500 new jobs, while significantly reinforcing Mississippi’s leadership position in the Southern Automotive Corridor.
Continental has found success in Mississippi with fellow tire manufacturers Yokohama Tire and Cooper Tire & Rubber. In February, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company announced plans to expand in Mississippi by locating the company’s largest distribution center in the United States in Marshall County. Cooper Tire is investing $50.5 million and creating approximately 100 jobs.
Mississippi’s contributions to the automotive industry also include PACCAR trucks as well as Toyota and Nissan automobiles. Mississippi’s relationship with Japan-based companies provides careers for more than 15,000 Mississippians yielding more than $230M in export trade. As the only U.S. state to house Japan’s top two automotive manufacturers, Mississippi produces more than half a million vehicles per year with a workforce trained by the state’s highly ranked community college system.
To strengthen the automotive sector, the state takes an innovative approach to building a next-generation workforce with robust research universities and a top-ranked community college system.
Mississippi State University’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems focuses on improving engineering, manufacturing and design technologies. The School of Polymers and High Performance Materials and the Mississippi Polymer Institute at University of Southern Mississippi lead the nation in the study of composites, advanced materials, polymers and plastics.
Mississippi’s community colleges work directly with companies, providing pre-employment training and customized training programs, ensuring workers are ready to contribute to a high-quality product their first day on the job. Continental Tire, Yokohama, Toyota, FEUER Powertrain and Toyoda Gosei are just a few industry leaders in Mississippi partnering with the state’s community colleges for their workforce training needs.
Hinds Community College will spearhead Continental’s cutting-edge workforce training to prepare future employees to hit the ground running on day one. Yokohama partners with East Mississippi Community College for the company’s workforce training needs. The community college’s 96-hour Basic Manufacturing Skills Course was a critical aspect of Yokohama’s decision to locate in West Point. The community college trains all of Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Mississippi’s employees through online manufacturing courses and hands-on training using the same types of machinery and equipment used at the Yokohama plant. The facility is available for students who want to work in the manufacturing sector.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi, Inc. in Blue Springs, Mississippi, partners with Coahoma Community College, East Mississippi Community College, Itawamba Community College, Northeast Mississippi Community College and Northwest Mississippi Community College in an innovative education-to-work program known as the Advanced Manufacturing Technician program. The program allows students to have a hands-on experience at Toyota’s Blue Springs automotive assembly plant as they pursue their certification.
Northwest Mississippi Community College also participates in the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Program, a collaboration with businesses to train highly skilled electronics engineering technicians. Northwest works with automotive industry leaders such as Toyoda Gosei, FEUER Powertrain and more.
To strengthen these partnerships between industry and educational institutions, Governor Phil Bryant created the Mississippi Works Fund. The fund allows the state’s community college system to enhance existing customizable training programs to more effectively meet the needs of companies. The fund allocates $50 million over 10 years for workforce training. Seventy-five percent of the funds are allocated toward new job creation, while 25 percent are allocated for existing workforce training and workforce certification.
The Mississippi Legislature also passed the Corporate Franchise Tax phase out. The legislation encourages corporate competitiveness and expansion by eliminating the state’s corporate franchise tax over a 10-year period. The law reduces the current $2.50 tax for each $1,000 of capital by 25 cents a year, with the phase-out completing in 2027. The phase-out also includes an exemption on the first $100,000 of capital.
The Corporate Franchise Tax phase-out and Mississippi Works Fund join an extensive portfolio of existing state business incentives, creating a second to none pro-business climate. As a top-10 state for low cost of doing business, a low union membership rate, speed of permitting and competitive utility rates, Mississippi is a prime location for automotive-related companies looking to drive investment.
In addition to a first-class workforce, Mississippi’s competitive energy rates and seamless one-stop permitting process further strengthen the state’s supportive business climate. With top-10 rankings in competitive labor costs, cost of doing business and the lowest utility rates, the state creates an environment where companies experience ease in conducting business.
Mississippi’s award-winning infrastructure and proven logistics capabilities contribute to the success of companies in the state, where a well-integrated, highly ranked transportation network ensures companies can efficiently move products to market.
The state is centrally located in the fastest-growing region of the U.S. and offers convenient access to global distribution hub Memphis, Tennessee. Ranked 10th best in the country in 2016 in the Reason Foundation’s 22nd Annual Highway Report, Mississippi’s seven interstate highways and 14 federal highways provide companies with one-day roadway access to more than 55 percent of U.S. businesses and population centers. Positioned in the center of the fastest-growing region in the United States, 55 percent of major U.S. markets are within a day’s drive of the state.
International trade is a vital part of Mississippi’s economy. The state’s 15 ports, including two deepwater ports on the Gulf of Mexico, offer quick, convenient access to national and international markets. In fact, Mississippi is surrounded by commercially navigable waterways on three sides, providing access to national and international markets. Over 2,000 companies, employing more than 38,000 Mississippians, exported from Mississippi locations last year.
With strong incentives, a business-friendly environment, low operating costs, robust infrastructure and a skilled workforce, Mississippi has all the right ingredients for corporate growth and success. Its Business Development Team supports the state’s businesses through a variety of marketing, information, and technical assistance programs to Mississippi industries. This team recruits domestic and overseas companies to Mississippi and assists Mississippi’s existing businesses with their retention and expansion efforts. Working closely with economic developers throughout the state, the team helps companies identify and secure appropriate buildings, sites and locations. Come see firsthand how a Mississippi location can be part of your winning formula. T&ID