Few other pockets of the Deep South are booming like Madison County.
New companies are coming online, existing business and industry is expanding, and the economic development team at the Madison County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA) in Canton is fielding calls every day from prospects wanting to locate in the prosperous northern part of the metro Jackson triangle.
“Draw a line from the Ford plant in Virginia across the southeastern U.S. over to the new Toyota plant in San Antonio,” said MCEDA executive director Tim Coursey. “There are 11 OEMs (automotive manufacturers) located along this line. Madison County — and the Jackson metro area — is almost smack dab in the middle of this line. We are a great midway location for suppliers desiring to conduct business with OEMs along or at both ends of the line. Lots of other communities are claiming to be in the middle of an auto corridor. We actually are, and as the Texas market gets larger, we could become the supplier epicenter if we play our cards right.”
Madison County needs more than 1,000 acres of industrial park property with rail and interstate access to meet the needs of prospective companies looking to locate in the area. On average, MCEDA receives three inquiries per week from site selectors looking specifically for two to 100 acres of land and/or 25,000 to 100,000 square feet of building space for industries ranging from auto-related manufacturers to call center operations.
“We have a little over 300 acres remaining in MCEDA’s inventory and very few rail sites,” said Coursey. “Our largest tract outside of Flora is less than 50 acres. We need to get prepared. MCEDA has hired a consulting group consisting of Mendrop Wages, McCallum Sweeney and CivilTech to conduct a new industrial park feasibility study. Two alignment sessions have been conducted and have provided a wealth of information to my board and the Madison County Board of Supervisors. Similar auto communities have given us a thorough education in the best and worst practices. Greenville, S.C., is one example we may try to emulate somewhat.”
Several new logistics companies are coming online, including ProMax, a subsidiary of $2 billion Itochu, which has invested more than $2 million in the former Havertys Furniture Building. Creative Logistics, housed in a new 126,000-square- foot building in Canton Industrial Park, has invested more than $4 million, which has been matched by Smart Logistics, now fully operational in Gluckstadt.
“Logistics business is booming,” said Coursey. “We are told that many auto supplier companies in other parts of the country are moving inventory here to Madison County.”
Collectively, about a dozen existing companies have recently invested more than $33 million in significant expansions requiring high-tech equipment. SunPine in Canton is implementing a new integrated chlorine bleach operation, Flora-based Primos is adding warehousing and distribution space, Peco Foods in Canton is purchasing $5.6 million in new equipment, Debukelear in Gluckstadt is investing more than $6 million in a new custom fabricated plant and equipment to accommodate a new product line, Paradigm Manufacturing of Flora is investing in a new plant, and Ridgeland-based CFS is expanding its call center by hiring additional employees and seeking additional space.
Nearly all of the county’s Tier I and Tier II automotive suppliers to Nissan have expanded. Calsonic has invested $6.7 million; Johnson Controls, $5.1 million; MiTech Steel, $4.3 million; Lextron/Visteon, $1.6 million; M-Tek, $1.5 million; Yazaki, $500,000; and IMS Aultrans, $90,000.
“Obviously, auto suppliers that are here are expanding to meet the increased production demands of Nissan,” said Coursey. “Expect more tier companies to move in as risk is assessed and understood now that Nissan has been doing well.”
Partnerships with organizations like the Metro Economic Development Authority and others have helped boost interest in Madison County.
“MCEDA and the Madison County Foundation have been working toward strengthening our working relationship and coordinating some of our efforts to help ensure the success of these projects,” said Coursey.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at email@example.com.