Mississippi’s Biggest Day of Economic Development Announcements Kicks Off in Gulfport

Governor Phil Bryant is making history today with two Mississippi economic development announcements totaling over $1.5 billion in investments and 3,500 jobs.

Topship in Gulfport, MS

Topship in Gulfport, MS (photo – mississippi.org)

The Governor kicked off the day of historic announcements by signing an MOU with marine transportation company Edison Chouest Offshore, and officially announced that the company’s subsidiary TopShip, LLC is locating shipbuilding operations at the Port of Gulfport in Gulfport, MS.

This is a $68 million corporate investment that will create 1,000 full-time jobs at the Port of Gulfport’s new inland port, with operations located at the former Huntington Ingalls Composite facility.

Gov. Bryant said in a release that “Mississippi has a proven track record in the shipbuilding industry, and we are proud to welcome TopShip to the state.”

Edison Chouest Offshore President and CEO Gary Chouest likewise responded that “I would like to personally thank Governor Phil Bryant, MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough, State Port Authority Executive Director Jonathan Daniels and their staffs for the warm welcome and assistance they have extended to TopShip.”

In order to secure this project, the Mississippi Legislature last week voted on an incentive package approving $11 million through the Mississippi Major Economic Impact Authority, including $10 million in discretionary grants and $1 million for workforce training.

The Port of Gulfport is pitching in with $25 million in Katrina-CDBG funds for infrastructure improvements, as part of its broader restoration budget. The project is furthermore supported by Harrison County and city of Gulfport economic development incentives in the form of personal property tax abatements.

Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. said in the release that “Shipbuilding is a strategically important economic driver for the Gulf Coast and the entire state of Mississippi, and Edison Chouest Offshore’s decision to locate in Gulfport strengthens the state’s leadership in the industry.”

Jonathan Daniels, Mississippi State Port Authority executive director and CEO, noted that TopShip’s operations on Seaway Road will link seamlessly with their modernized, deep-water draft facility, creating expanded cargo opportunities and leading to additional job creation.

Apart from this $11 million for the Topship project, the Mississippi Legislature has also approved $263 million in state funding to support a $1.45 billion Continental Tire project in western Hinds County that will create another 2,500 jobs, and will be Continental’s largest tire plant in North America. That will be Governor Bryant’s second economic development announcement for the day.

Mississippi Governor Calls Special Session to Consider Incentives For $1.5B Tire Plant and Port Projects With 3500 Jobs

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has called a Special Session of the State Legislature today to consider approval of incentives for two large projects that will bring more than $1.5 billion in capital investments for the state, along with the creation of over 3,500 new jobs.

Mississippi  Special Session

Mississippi Special Session (photo – ms.gov)

The Special Session will consider, among other things, issuance of General Obligation Bonds that will allow the State to provide hundreds of millions in funding as incentives for these two projects.

The Legislature will also be asked to amend the definition of a “Project” under the Mississippi Major Economic Impact Act to include “Certain tire or other rubber or automotive manufacturing plants and their affiliates and to include certain maritime fabrication and assembly facilities.”

The Special Session will also allow the County or Municipality in question to provide local incentives in the form of a Fee-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (FILOT) agreement and by issuing bonds or appropriating funds from their General Fund or through Mississippi economic development loans provided by the MDA.

The tire project, identified only as “Project Potter,” is a $1.45 billion tire manufacturing plant to be located in a western Hinds County megasite, north of I-20 between Clinton and Bolton. Documents filed by the Hinds County Economic Development Authority with the U.S. Corps of Engineers show this to be a 5.2 million-square-foot industrial building and operations center.

According to news reports, this will be a new Continental Tire plant that is expected to create more than 2,500 direct new jobs for Hinds County and Mississippi.

The second project for which incentives will be considered during the Special Session is Topship LLC’s investment of $68 million for the expansion of their Gulfport shipyard with the creation of over 1,000 new jobs in the new inland port at the Port of Gulfport.

As part of a $570 million restoration and expansion project, the Board of Commissioners for the Mississippi State Port Authority (MSPA) had previously approved the purchase of the Huntington Ingalls Gulfport Composite Facility in order to realize a long-range vision for an inland port as an extension of the Port of Gulfport. The 116-acre location increases capacity for the Port by offering additional laydown area, rail access, and barge connections for current and future tenants.

Topship LLC, a subsidiary of Louisiana-based marine transportation solution provider Edison Chouest Offshore, was drawn by this new inland port facility and has executed a lease agreement with the Port. Gary Chouest, CEO of Edison Chouest Offshore, said in a statement at that time that “Development of the Port’s inland port facility, and our long-term lease of the property, provides a unique opportunity to seamlessly link to the development at the restored Port of Gulfport.”

ACCO Brands Reshoring Project to Create 34 Jobs in Booneville, Mississippi

Office products manufacturer ACCO Brands Corporation has announced plans to reshore certain front-office functions to its Booneville, MS facility.

ACCO Brands

ACCO Brands (photo – accobrands.com)

Supported by the Mississippi Development Authority, Prentiss County Development Association, Prentiss County and the City of Booneville, the company is investing $159,000 and will bring 34 jobs to Booneville from Manila, Philippines.

The jobs being reshored are front-office positions related to the management and processing of accounts receivable. The addition of these 34 jobs brings ACCO Brands’ total employment in Booneville to 613, continuing their consolidation of far-flung functions to the Booneville facility.

ACCO Brands’ previous major expansion in Booneville was in 2014, when the company announced a $1.6 million investment with the creation of 162 jobs in Booneville for new call center operations to help meet its customer service and internal sales needs.

Referring to this latest addition of another 34 jobs, Governor Phil Bryant said in a release that the reshoring of these positions from Manila to the U.S., specifically to Booneville, is great news for the local community and all of Prentiss County.

“I thank the ACCO Brands team for choosing to expand its workforce in Booneville and for once again placing its confidence in the state’s business climate,” added Gov. Bryant.

ACCO Brands Vice President Matt Kiesling explained that during the past two years, they have seen great success through partnerships with the state of Mississippi and the Prentiss County Development Association.

“Over the past few years, we’ve been able to add new jobs, incorporating additional skills and knowledge to our area, as well as expanding on greater job opportunities within the area. When the opportunity came for us to bring jobs back to the U.S., expanding our regional headquarters in Booneville was the place to go,” added Kiesling.

In order to secure the project, the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) has approved a $150,000 grant to support building improvements. Prentiss County and the City of Booneville chipped in with local incentives for the project in the form of matching funds for the state grant.

MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. said in the release that “We salute our teammates at the city of Booneville, Prentiss County and the Prentiss County Development Association for their leadership with MDA, which assisted ACCO in bringing quality jobs back to the U.S., creating new career opportunities for Mississippians in Prentiss County.”

Lake Zurich, IL-based ACCO Brands Corporation (NYSE:ACCO) was founded in 2005 through the merger of ACCO World with General Binding Corporation. The company is now one of the world’s largest suppliers of branded school, office and consumer products and print finishing solutions. They design, market and sell products in more than 100 countries around the world.

Local, State, Federal Economic Development Partnership Secures DPM Fragrance Expansion in Starkville, MS

DPM Fragrance, a manufacturer of candles and other home fragrance products, announced plans for building a new facility in Starkville, MS.

DPM Fragrance

DPM Fragrance (photo -dpmfragrance.com))

The project has been approved to receive local, state and federal incentives from the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Association, Mississippi Development Authority and the Appalachian Regional Commission, and was supported by regional economic development organization Golden Triangle Development LINK.

DPM Fragrance is investing $5 million to establish a 150,000-square-foot facility on a 25-acre site in Cornerstone Park, off MS Highway 25. The company, which already manufactures all of its products at a facility in Starkville with 160 existing employees, expects to create another 100 new jobs at the new facility.

Governor Phil Bryant said in a release announcing the project that he appreciates DPM Fragrance for its commitment to the Starkville area and the State of Mississippi, and thanked the company for creating these new jobs. Gov. Bryant added that he looks forward to DPM Fragrance’s continued growth and success in Oktibbeha County.

DPM Fragrance has been growing at a fast clip of about 30 percent in the last few years, and is regularly included in the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-owned companies in the U.S. Last year alone, the company doubled its team and has added a second production shift.

The new facility will expand the company’s production capacity and improve efficiencies through new technology, while at the same time consolidating all their offices in one location.

Tom Reed, the company’s owner, said in the release that they have proudly called Starkville home for the last 25 years. Reed added that it’s a town where they have built their success, and added that they look forward to continuing that partnership as they continue to grow.

Mississippi economic development agency MDA is supporting the project, and DPM Fragrance’s expansion in Starkville will be facilitated through funding from the Community Development Block Grant Program.

MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough said they salute their partners at the Golden Triangle Development LINK, the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Association and the Appalachian Regional Commission for great teamwork resulting in this expansion.

Golden Triangle Development LINK is the regional economic development organization serving Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties in northeast Mississippi. GTR LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins said in the release that DPM Fragrance choosing to continue their growth in Starkville says a lot about their relationship with the local community.

Mississippi Works Website and Mobile Apps Launched

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant unveiled the new Mississippi Works website and mobile apps that aims to the first-of-its kind interactive resource pairing jobs seekers with employers statewide.

Mississippi Works

Mississippi Works

Mississippi Works is a real-time system that both employers and job seekers can use at no cost. It allows jobs seekers to search for openings based on location, academic qualifications and the job type.

Job seekers may create a profile and get mobile text messages or email alerts about new jobs posted that match their qualifications.

The innovative part that sets Mississippi Works apart from other job boards is that it also advises job seekers on how well their qualifications match a particular opening, outlining what additional training, job experience and/or education they need to qualify.

The system also has separate sections for veterans and students. Students can search for available jobs based solely on the academic degree. More than 13,000 students have already signed up for the service.

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but as of now, the website lists 26,326 Mississippi jobs as being available.

Gov. Bryant said in a statement that since becoming Governor, he has made it a priority to build a state where every Missourian who wants a job can find a job. Gov. Bryant said they are accomplishing this goal through economic development efforts, by improving the business climate, through workforce development programs and education reform.

Apart from connecting jobs seekers with employers, the Mississippi Works system will also help the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) identify state residents who have filed for unemployment benefits and then match these individuals with suitable jobs that need to be filled.

The Mississippi Works system was developed by the Governor’s Office and MDES working together with nSPARC, a research center at Mississippi State University.

The website and mobile apps are a part of the overall Mississippi Works initiative that is focused on three main economic development areas:-

– Focus on workforce development to help craft a long-range strategy for expanding economic opportunities in Mississippi;

– Help attract new investments to the state while helping grow existing businesses and expand them into new markets; and

– Provide a forum for business leaders in Mississippi to learn about the progress being made, and provide the tools to help spread the success stories beyond Mississippi.

The Mississippi Works team is comprised of business leaders from across the state, including co-chairs Jim Barksdale who is interim director of the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA); and Bill Lampton who is president of the Asphalt Division at Ergon Inc.

The website can be accessed at www.mississippiworks.org, and you can also download the Android and iPhone apps.

Margaritaville Casino Biloxi Plans Expansion With 250-Room Hotel

The Margaritaville Casino and Restaurant in Biloxi, Mississippi is finally getting into the right state of mind with a planned expansion that includes a new 250-room hotel.

Margaritaville Biloxi

Margaritaville Biloxi (rendering – margaritavillebiloxi.com)

The hotel, which is scheduled to be completed by spring 2015, will have 170 guest rooms and another 80 suites. They will also be offering time-shares.

Doug Shipley, president and CEO, Margaritaville Biloxi, said in a statement that they are making a considerable investment into creating a resort destination the likes of which has never been seen in Biloxi.

The company’s statement did not specify the expansion investment, but media reports in mid-2013 have city officials saying that the expansion would involve an investment of more than $50 million.

Shipley said the time-shares will attract a whole new type of customer that is currently not visiting the Biloxi area, and it is an exciting opportunity for the city.

Apart from the hotel, Margaritaville is also expanding and renovating the casino floor, and adding more meeting space. They are also opening a bayfront pool and spa with outdoor gaming, and a new steakhouse with views of the Biloxi Bay Waterfront.

The renovations also include a reengineered marina that will provide enhanced and more secure overnight docking. That’s on the agenda partly because of Hurricane Isaac, which ripped up the marina and outdoor bar and dining area just a few months after Margaritaville Biloxi’s much-delayed opening.

This project has had more than its fair share of misfortunes ever since it was first announced by Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. and Jimmy Buffett in May 2007 as a $700 million casino and resort on the site where Casino Magic and the Grand Casino had been located until Katrina.

But construction was suspended in 2008 on account of the recession and the financial crisis being faced by Harrah’s, and the BP oil spill then delayed attempts to revive the project. The first phase of the Margaritaville Casino & Restaurant project that reemerged afterwards in 2011 without Harrah‚Äôs was pegged at around $50 million.

Margaritaville Biloxi opened on May 22, 2012. Hurricane Isaac swept in three months later in August 2012. By September, the casino had laid off 200 employees. But all that’s now in the past, and they’ve had more than a year to recover and grow.

Stacey McKay, vice president of Marketing, Margaritaville Biloxi, says they want to bring Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville state of mind into a state of being. He says that’s what they’re building – a resort that lives up to the brand beloved around the world.

Biloxi gets 3.2 percent of the 12 percent gaming tax the casino pays, with eight percent going to the state and the remaining 0.8 percent to the county. This taxing formula was adopted by Mississippi in 1992 to ensure that residents statewide benefit from the taxes paid by the casinos.

Mississippi’s gross casino gaming revenue in 2013 amounted to $1,972,125,974.48.

ACEEE Report – State Energy Efficiency Scorecard

The non-profit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released its seventh annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which ranks states based on energy efficiency policies and programs.


ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard

ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard (photo – aceee.org)

Massachusetts topped the charts for the third year running, based on its continued commitment to the implementation of the Green Communities Act of 2008.

This law continues to spur more investments in energy efficiency by requiring utilities to save a growing percentage of energy every year through greater efficiency.

Governor Deval Patrick said Massachusetts continues leading the nation in energy efficiency because they consciously made the choice to shape their own future, rather than leave it to chance.

Gov. Patrick added that they will continue to focus on policies that create jobs while decreasing dependence on imported energy sources and protecting the environment by reducing emissions.

The top states in ACEEE’s 2013 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard are (in the order of their ranking) – Massachusetts, California, New York, Oregon, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Maryland, and Illinois.

This is the first time Illinois is showing up in the top ten on this list. Connecticut also moved up from sixth place and broke into the top five after passing a comprehensive energy bill (Public Act 13-298) earlier this year that authorized a doubling of energy efficiency program opportunities to help businesses and residents in the state reduce their energy bills.

The leading states in building energy codes and compliance were California, Washington and Rhode Island.

Mississippi was one of the few states that showed a huge improvement in their ranking, courtesy of laws passed this year by the Mississippi Legislature mandating an energy code for commercial and public buildings. With the help of this law, Mississippi began implementing lead-by-example programs in public buildings.

Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, who is also president of the Southeastern Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, said Mississippi was proud to be the most improved state in ACEEE’s State Scorecard. Presley added that they looked forward to seeing Mississippi emerge as a regional leader in tapping the vast economic benefits of energy efficiency.

Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont are leading states in terms of energy efficiency programs and policies targeting the utility sector. California leads the way in energy-efficient transportation policies, along with New York.

California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister said California continues to earn its reputation as an energy leader by instituting the most advanced energy efficiency standards in the nation, and for pushing the envelope on ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs.

McAllister said these standards have helped California ratepayers save more than $75 billion since 1975, protected the climate by reducing emissions, and grown the economy with local jobs.

Read the full ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard – Download (pdf; free registration required)

Wayne Farms Expansion to Create 150 Jobs in Laurel, MS

Oakwood, Georgia-based fresh and processed poultry producer Wayne Farms announced an expansion of its facility in Laurel, Mississippi.

Wayne Farms, Laurel, MS

Wayne Farms, Laurel, MS (photo – waynefarms.com)

The company will invest $3 million to renovate the existing facility and add a new processing line.

The expansion is expected to create 150 new jobs for laurel and the rest of Jones County.

Wayne Farms agreed to undertake this expansion after the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) approved incentives under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

The City of Laurel will get the CDBG grant to help provide improved access to Wayne Farms.

Clint Rivers, vice president and general manager of Wayne Farms’ Fresh Processing Business Unit, said the company has been in business with Laurel and Mississippi since 1957, and this block grant was testimony to the mutually beneficial relationship.

Rivers said it represented a true community partnership with the creation of 150 jobs and an economic impact of millions of dollars for the region. He said they were grateful for the vision and hard work of the MDA and the Governor’s Office, and for the confidence of the community.

MDA Executive Director Brent Christensen likewise noted that the addition of a processing line and the 150 new jobs being created would have a positive impact on the community for years to come. He said they were glad to have resources in place for assisting great companies like Wayne Farms that are growing and strengthening their roots in Mississippi.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said that when companies continue investing in their existing operations in the state, it speaks to the fact that Mississippi offers a favorable and supportive business climate for helping ensure their success.

Wayne Farms LLC is a ContiGroup Companies subsidiary, and is the sixth largest vertically integrated poultry producer in the United States. The company has 11 fresh and processed poultry facilities in the Southeast that together produce more than 2.5 billion pounds of poultry products every year, leading to annual sales worth more than $1.9 billion.

Including these 150 new jobs, the company has almost 10,000 employees spread across facilities in Arkansas, Alabama, North Carolina, Mississippi and Georgia.

Feuer Powertrain Breaks Ground on Manufacturing Plant in Mississippi

Nordhausen, Germany-based Feuer Powertrain GmbH broke ground on a new manufacturing facility for producing crankshafts in Tunica, Mississippi.

MS Gov. Phil Bryant at Feuer Powertrain announcement

MS Gov. Phil Bryant at Feuer Powertrain announcement (photo – governor’s Office)

The $140 million project will be the first Feuer manufacturing facility in the U.S. and their first one outside Germany.

The project is expected to create 300 new jobs in Tunica County.

The company already has more than 400 employees in the five manufacturing facilities at their headquarters in Germany, where they produce a million crankshafts a year for the transportation and automotive industries.

A large part of their German production output is sent to export markets, including North America.

Bernd Gulden, CEO of Feuer Powertrain, said that after going through a long site selection process, they are now convinced that the decision to locate their first overseas manufacturing facility in Tunica is the right move.

Gulden said the business-friendly atmosphere, and support from the State and Tunica County, gave them the confidence that this would be an ideal location for expanding Feuer’s global manufacturing footprint.

Tunica and Mississippi had serious competition for the project from Louisa County, Virginia. One of the residents in Louisa introduced the county’s economic development team to Feuer’s leadership, and the negotiations were conducted under the code name of Project Ice Water.

However, earlier this year in June, Louisa County officials were informed that Feuer was no longer interested in Virginia because they had decided to locate the facility in Mississippi. According to a report published in The Central Virginian at that time, Virginia and Louisa County had offered Feuer a $16.7 million package of incentives, but Mississippi topped that by offering more than $27 million.

The exact amount of incentives Mississippi is offering has not been disclosed. The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) is offering support for infrastructure improvements, site preparation and workforce training through the Mississippi Industry Incentive Financing Revolving Fund. Additional local incentives and support is being provided by Tunica County.

MDA Executive Director Brent Christensen said they were pleased to be able to assist in bringing this great company to Tunica, and appreciated their partners in Tunica County who worked together with them to make the project a reality.

Christensen added that Feuer’s decision to locate its manufacturing operations in Tunica was another sign of the position and growing strength of Mississippi in the southern automotive corridor.

Nissan Breaks Ground on Canton, MS Supplier Park

Nissan North America, Inc. broke ground on its first major North American supplier park at the company’s vehicle assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi.

Nissan supplier park groundbreaking in Canton, MS

Nissan supplier park groundbreaking in Canton, MS (photo – Governor’s Office)

MS Gov. Phil Bryant was on hand for the groundbreaking, along with local officials from Madison County and the City of Canton.

The construction of the new 1 million-square-foot integrated logistics center north of the Nissan campus, along with improvements to the existing supplier logistics center on the other side, represents a $50 million investment on Nissan’s part.

The expansion will support 800 new jobs. Nissan made 400 new hires for the project last month, and the remaining 400 jobs will be positions created by the company’s suppliers. All put together, Nissan has more than 5,600 existing employees at the Canton plant.

Dan Bednarzyk, Nissan Vice President for Total Delivered Cost, said that the groundbreaking supports their efforts to bring more Nissan vehicles to the plant, and means more jobs for Mississippi. He added that the supplier park would make the Canton Mississippi plant more globally competitive.

The expansion is part of an overall Nissan strategy to localize manufacturing. Currently, only 69 percent of Nissan vehicles sold in the U.S. are built in North America. The company plans to increase local production so that 85 percent of Nissan vehicles for the U.S. market will be built locally by 2015.

The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) has helped facilitate the supplier park project by providing assistance for site preparation and infrastructure improvements. MDA and Madison County have also provided assistance for the existing supplier center renovation, building upgrades and for workforce training.

Earlier this year, the Mississippi legislature approved a bill that enabled the Madison County Economic Development Authority to raise $100 million through a bond issue for construction of buildings to be used by Nissan suppliers.

Nissan or its suppliers using space in the new supplier park buildings will sign bond agreements and have the option to buy the space they are using once the bonds are repaid.

MDA Executive Director Brent Christensen said assisting great companies such as Nissan grow and create jobs for Mississippi residents was a big part of their mission. Christensen thanked Madison County for working with the MDA to make the project possible.

Gov. Bryant said the new supplier park would bring more manufacturing jobs to Mississippi and would serve to strengthen the state’s growing automotive sector.

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