ELLISVILLE — College graduates who previously had to move out of the state to get high-paying
technology jobs instead will have opportunities right at home at the businesses that will be located at the
new 500-acre Howard Technology Park.
Groundbreaking ceremonies were held recently at the site on U.S. Hwy. 11 and Mississippi Hwy. 590
adjacent to Ellisville, located eight miles south of Laurel and 21 miles north of Hattiesburg. Andy Dial,
president of the Jones County Board of Supervisors, said that the state-of-the-art technology park will
be unique to Mississippi.
“This development will create a better category of jobs that can raise the income level of the county,”
Dial said. “This will be a place for young people who used to have to leave the state to get jobs. It was a
cooperative effort from the state government, the legislature, local governments and private industry. A
lot of credit goes to the Howards and also Dwight Evans of Mississippi Power Company.”
Howard Computers, a subsidiary of Howard Industries, will be the anchor for the Howard Technology
Park. Billy Howard, CEO of Howard Industries, said he expects about 5,000 people will be employed
by Howard Computers at the park in the next five to 10 years. Officials hope another 3,000 to 5,000
jobs will be created by other industries locating at the park that could include suppliers for Howard
Industries and for the new Nissan plant in Madison County.
“I believe the Howard Technology Park will be able to help all of the industries, not just in this area, but
throughout the state,” Howard said. “Even the Nissan factory will need the services of a lot of people
in the park. We’re looking to have a high-tech corridor from Ellisville to the Stennis Space Center, and
are working with people from Stennis right now in that area.”
Howard said there are 32 high-tech startup businesses at an incubator at Stennis. Howard Industries
already has a partnership with one of the businesses, and expects to develop partnerships with additional
Stennis businesses. He believes once high-tech businesses at Stennis reach a certain size, they might
consider the advantages of locating at the Howard Technology Park.
One of the biggest advantages will be training offered through Jones County Junior College, which is
building a $6-million training facility at the park. Currently bids are going out for infrastructure such as
roads, water and sewage at the park. Early next year bids are expected to be let for the Jones County
Junior College Advanced Technology Center. Completion of that structure is expected to take nine
Construction of the Howard Computers facility will begin once the training facility is complete, and is
also expected to take nine months to construct.
Howard said that the business plan for Howard Computers is going according to schedule with sales
representatives calling on customers across the country.
“Computers are a $150-billion market, so the demand is out there,” Howard said. “We don’t have to
create the demand. We just have to persuade people to buy Howard Computers rather than someone
Mitch Stennett, president of the Economic Development Association of Jones County, said a unique
feature of the park will be its attractive, campus-like look.
“It will be very attractive,” Stennett said. “A good deal of money has been budgeted for landscaping,
and there will be curbs, gutters, sidewalks and green spaces. The outside lights and street signage will be
aesthetically pleasing. There will be no overhead utilities, and the park has strong protective covenants
that will protect nature.”
Stennett said the attractive character of the park is needed to compete with the nicer technology parks
located elsewhere in the U.S. The closest technology park similar to Howard Technology Park is in
Starkville, which has a technology park in conjunction with the university. Stennett said they borrowed
some ideas from the technology park in Starkville including their covenants, which were customized for
the Howard Technology Park.
Another factor that will make the park unique is that it will have high-speed data transmission
capabilities. Developers also hope the park’s location on a major highway will be an advantage.
Plans for Howard Technology Park were already underway prior to the announcement of the Nissan
plant. Stennett said that announcement is serendipitous, and could be advantageous regarding the
potential for attracting spin-off businesses for the Nissan plant. Stennett said the businesses could
include those involved in research and design.
“We will have the first technology-oriented sites available for high-tech suppliers to Nissan,” Stennett
And as Howard Computers grows, it is hoped the spin-off businesses for that industry will also locate
at the park.
Contact MBJ staff writer Becky Gillette at firstname.lastname@example.org or (228) 872-3457.
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