By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – New and existing industry activity in Tupelo’s micropolitan area in 2013 created more than 900 new jobs and involved more than $78 million in capital improvements, enough to earn the second highest ranking in the nation.
Site Selection magazine released the annual ranking Monday of micropolitans, a list of 576 areas nationwide ranked on new and expanded industry.
A micropolitan area is defined by the U.S. Census as a largely rural economy that includes a city of at least 10,000 people but not more than 50,000 and covers at least one county.
Micropolitan Tupelo had 19 new and expanding projects in 2013. Top projects include Ashley Furniture, General Atomics, Tecumseh, Advanced Innovations and Cooper Tire.
Wooster, Ohio, topped the list with 27 new or expanding existing industries.
David Rumbarger, president and CEO of the Tupelo-based Community Development Foundation, said the high ranking shows Tupelo and Lee County are good places to locate and have jobs.
“It’s an indication of not just one or two companies that expanded but many,” he said.
Rumbarger and CDF Board of Directors chairman Chauncey Godwin celebrated the community achievement by presenting the Lee County Board of Supervisors with a plaque.
Darrell Rankin, president of the county board, said the honor reinforced what he already knew.
“We have jobs available and continue to prosper, thrive and grow,” he said . “It’s a great place to live and prosper.”
Tupelo ranked in the top three in 2008 and 2006.
Site Selection, a 60-year-old Atlanta-based magazine, has provided rankings and awards since 1978 to communities with the most new and expanded corporate facilities. Economic and community developers throughout the nation consider the publication among industry standards for providing analysis of top-achieving communities related to industrial growth.
Mississippi tied with three other states as 10th in the nation with top micropolitans with new or expanding existing industries. With four total, Mississippi’s other micropolitan areas include Natchez with nine and Columbus, Laurel and Meridian with two.
Rumbarger said projects leading to new or expansion of industry involves significant investment of patience and time. A key quality he identified in the Tupelo and Lee County area is strong commitment of business and elected officials to work together on job recruitment.
Project announcements can take from a few months to a year or longer.
“Cooperation is probably the one key ingredient,” Rumbarger said. “Tupelo and Lee County have gotten it right through the years.”