Jackson County is currently seeing fast-paced development that has created about 6,000 new jobs in the past 18 months.
“We could never experience economic and industrial growth any better than this,” said Terry Carter, president and CEO of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. “Anyone who wants to work and can pass a drug test can get an excellent job in Jackson County. This is the best of the best times in terms of economic conditions that I think Jackson County has seen in many, many years.”
Carter said part of the rosy economic picture relates to the general health of the U.S. economy. But he believes Jackson County is outpacing the vast majority of communities in the Southeast as evidenced the county being named by Southern Business and Development magazine as the top job`s creation market for a community its size in the Southeast.
“Jackson County was surpassed in jobs creation only by Houston, Dallas, Atlanta and Tampa,” Carter said. “The rating by Southern Business and Development says a lot about the county and where we are moving. I`m going to make a guess here that next year at this time Southern Business and Development will name Pascagoula and Jackson County as one of its top sites for a second year.
“We have a number of industrial prospects who are looking very seriously at relocating their manufacturing operations into Jackson County. We are still seeing at the current time our existing core industry continue to grow. The trend we are currently in is very, very good. We continue to be an area that is considered one of the leading industrial growth areas of the Southeast. I don`t see any factors that would impede or slow down this growth prospect.”
Carter said one of the biggest challenges to keep up with the growth will be to provide a highly skilled labor force.
The county has a new industrial training facility similar to the one in Hancock County that is being used to train workers for Halter Marine and other area industries.
“The new training facility is part of the answer to providing a highly skilled and well-trained work force,” Carter said.
“I think we will continue to see other industries follow a similar program as they need to develop their own work forces. I also see this expanding into a public/private partnership between industry and the community college to further enhance the job training program that is currently in place at the community college. This is the type of innovation that will significantly improve the labor market conditions. It`s just the wave of the future.”