Rules for fracking on federal lands issued

Staff and wire reports

The Obama administration said Friday it is requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations, a drilling technique that has sparked an ongoing boom in natural gas production across the country.

A rule to take effect in June also updates requirements for well construction and disposal of water and other fluids used in fracking, as the drilling method is more commonly known.

The rule has been under consideration for more than three years, drawing criticism from the oil and gas industry and environmental groups alike. The industry fears federal regulation could duplicate efforts by states and hinder the drilling boom, while some environmental groups worry that lenient rules could allow unsafe drilling techniques to pollute groundwater.

There are no fracking wells on federal lands in Mississippi, according to Howard Leach, general counsel for the Mississippi Oil and Gas Board.

Funds to support STEM programs at schools

nissan-logoCANTON — Nissan is donating $250,000 to supporting science, math and engineering programs at six Mississippi historical black colleges.

The announcement came Friday at the Nissan plant in Canton.

The funds will go to Alcorn State University, Coahoma Community College, Jackson State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Rust College and Tougaloo College with resources to support their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs.

Jeffrey Webster, Nissan’s director of diversity and inclusion, says in a news release that each school will be able to promote a range of STEM related programs in applied sciences, engineering, math, computer and information science and others.

 

Gresham Petroleum and Double Quick make record-breaking donation

Principals of Gresham Petroleum and Double Quick (left to right), Bill McPherson, Tom Gresham and Walton Gresham, recently supported Delta State University and the Delta State University with record-breaking scholarships to the Delta State University College of Business.

Principals of Gresham Petroleum and Double Quick (left to right), Bill McPherson, Tom Gresham and Walton Gresham, recently supported Delta State University and the Delta State University with record-breaking scholarships to the Delta State University College of Business.

It was an easy call for the Indianola-based sister companies Gresham Petroleum and Double Quick.

Now, Delta State University and the Delta State University Foundation are pleased to announce the groundbreaking Gresham-McPherson Endowed Scholarships in the College of Business.

This Gresham Petroleum/Double Quick gift is the largest unrestricted scholarship gift in the history of Delta State University’s College of Business. Contributors include: Thomas & Louise Gresham Endowed Scholarship Fund, $75,000; Walton & Laura Gresham Endowed Scholarship Fund, $75,000; and the Bill & Draughon McPherson Endowed Scholarship Fund.

These monumental gifts total $225,000. Additionally, Gresham Petroleum/Double Quick is donating $10,000 each for the next five years to contribute $50,000 toward marketing.

Discussion of the scholarships began when William N. LaForge, president of Delta State University, and Keith Fulcher, executive director of the Delta State University Foundation, approached Gresham Petroleum/Double Quick — companies with long histories of supporting students through internships and hiring Delta State graduates.

“When President LaForge and Keith approached us about helping Delta State, we decided we wanted to help the College of Business,” said Tom. “We realized the importance Delta State has for the Delta, and we’ve hired so many Delta State graduates.

“We’ve had for several years an accounting internship program through Delta State. Many of those interns have gone on to be our employees, and we realized that Delta State has a great product. The students are ready for the working world and very prepared to join our team as soon as they graduate.”

McPherson added that the quality of students coming out of the College of Business played a major role in designating the funds to the business program.

“They come in able to learn our business, join our accounting team and some even move on to other areas of the company,” said McPherson. “Some came through the accounting internship and some came on right after college. There are Delta State graduates in all facets of our business.”

Giving back to a university that has consistently given them a great product seemed like a no-brainer to Walton and Laura.

“It’s important we give back to the area, and we felt like this was the way we could impact the Delta,” said Walton. “If the Delta is going to continue to grow and prosper, we need to make sure young students can depend on Delta State to further their education.”

LaForge said the contributions would greatly enhance to the quality of students who continue to graduate from Delta State.

“This is a perfect connection between academics at Delta State and business in the Delta. It provides the ideal loop,” said LaForge. “Students benefit from the scholarship support being provided to pursue their studies in accounting, excellent accounting students graduate from our program, and Double Quick/Gresham Petroleum is able to recruit newly-minted accountants to work in their headquarters.

“Delta State is immensely appreciative to Bill McPherson and Tom and Walton Gresham for their contributions and generosity. Their investment in our students is an investment in the Delta, as well as in their own businesses.”

Gresham Petroleum has been around since the late 1920s and is a wholesale fuel distributor throughout Northwest Mississippi and Southeastern Arkansas.

Double Quick has over 50 convenience stores primarily in the same regions. Learn more about both companies athttp://www.greshampetroleum.com and http://www.doublequick.com.

Fulcher could not be happier with the generous support to the university.

“The gift amount demonstrates to others that Delta State University graduates are a vital part of the economic engine of the Mississippi Delta,” said Fulcher. “These graduates often comprise a significant percentage of the workforce of successful businesses like Gresham Petroleum and Double Quick.”

Learn more about giving opportunities through the Delta State University Foundation athttp://www.deltastategiving.org.

 

Sun Country Airlines starting Gulfport/Biloxi seasonal service

Sun Country Airlines will begin a g new seasonal service from its hometown market Minneapolis/St. Paul to Gulfport/Biloxi International starting Aug. 27 through Nov. 22.

The airline will also begin service from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Savannah/Hilton Head International from Aug, 27 through Dec. 13.

Destinations will be available for sale beginning March 19, 2015, Sun Country said.

With the addition of these two destinations, Sun Country Airlines will service a total of 37 destinations throughout the year.

“Savannah and Gulfport are both beautiful communities that strengthen our roster of destinations,” said Larry Chestler, executive VP of Sun Country Airlines. “Growing our non-stop service from MSP to these new coastal destinations gives our passengers even more great options for vacations, be it a golf getaway, a casino trip or a family beach vacation.”

 

 

 

 

Mississippi’s key economic indicators show slight strengthening

The performance of Mississippi’s economy in 2015 may hinge on growth in building permits, retail trade and consumer confidence offsetting a slowdown in U.S. manufacturing attributed to a stronger dollar, lower oil prices and bad weather.

So say Mississippi state economists in the March issue of Mississippi’s Business, a monthly report on the state’s economy by the University Research Center of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.

The report noted that nationally, the Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, grew 2.4 percent, the largest annual increase since 2010 but still a historically low rate during an economic expansion.

In January, the Mississippi Leading Index of Economic Indicators (MLI) rose slightly. The 0.1 percent increase in value was 2.9 percent higher compared to the previous January. The index began showing strength in the last quarter of 2014 and has risen 0.7 percent in the last six months, the report said.

However, four of the seven components of the Mississippi index contributed negatively in January, according to the report, citing dips in manufacturing employment, manufacturing activity, state income tax withholdings and retail sales.

The index saw a drop of 10.5 percent in January’s initial unemployment claims compared to the same month a year ago.

The most significant index increase came in the value of residential construction permits. Permit values rose 14.4 percent in January over December and 33.6 percent over the same period a year ago. The index also saw increases in consumer expectations, increasing 3.1 percent as a three-month average that included January.

Meanwhile, Mississippi’s job market in January had the strongest month in at least three years. But the state remained tied in January with Nevada for the highest unemployment rate of any state.

The state’s jobless rate fell to 7.1 percent, down from 7.2 percent in December and 7.9 percent in January 2014. Unlike many recent months, that improving unemployment rate was not driven by Mississippians leaving the job market. The number of people looking for a job rose by 7,000.

The report found that 88,000 Mississippians were unemployed in January, about even with December but more than 10,000 below January 2014.

Trade, transportation, and utilities along with professional and business services brought most of the job gains in Mississippi in January, the March economic report said. All other sectors posted losses or no to relatively small gains, according to the report.

The largest absolute and percentage increases in employment occurred in retail, which added 2,900 jobs for the month for an increase of 2.1 percent. Retail trade employment was 2.5 percent higher in January compared to one year ago.

Professional and business services added 1,600 jobs for the month, an increase of 1.6 percent. Employment in the sector was 3.6 percent higher compared to January 2014.

The largest absolute decrease in employment in Mississippi for the month occurred in construction, which lost 700 jobs, a decrease of 1.5 percent. The December value of construction employment was revised lower and employment in the sector is off 12.7 percent compared to one year ago.

For the second consecutive month the largest percentage decrease in employment in the state occurred in mining and logging, which declined 2.2 percent, a loss of 200 jobs.

So far, the state’s manufacturing sector has withstood the national slowdown in the industry in recent months. However, employment growth in Mississippi in 2015 will require other industries such as retail trade to sustain job gains to compensate if manufacturing employment starts to decline, the March report said..