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Swoope: State must be relentless

 

From the set of a Time to Kill, which was filmed in Canton.

From the set of a Time to Kill, which was filmed in Canton.

MDA head says business has moved into state and more is coming

 

While not immune to the recession, business recruitment and retention in Mississippi has not slacked, and a slew of economic development projects are underway.

“I think that certainly the national and global economy has a major economic impact on our state. We’re not immune to it, but in the economic development profession, we say that during tough times you have to make tough decisions,” said Mississippi Development Authority executive director Gray Swoope. “We have to decide where to put our resources. We have not stopped recruiting – in fact, we’ve beefed up those efforts.”

“The word we use is ‘relentless.’ We must be relentless in our efforts to create jobs.”

Swoope and MDA officials pointed to several new industries that plan to locate operations in Mississippi, including Twin Creeks Technology and Schulz.

Twin Creeks Technology is a solar technology production company that has plans to bring 512 jobs to its base in Senatobia in the next five years.

Schulz, a German pipe manufacturing company, will open its first North American location in Tunica County. The company plans to employ 500.

“Schulz looked all over the world and selected Tunica, Miss.,” Swoope said.

Other new businesses locating in Mississippi include the Mississippi Film Studio at Canton, a studio dedicated to attracting and supporting film and television production in the state; the John C. Stennis Memorial Hospital, the first hospital built in Kemper County; and, Siemens, which is relocating a distribution center to Southaven.

With the recruitment of a clean energy company such as Twin Creeks Technology, MDA officials are seeking to stay ahead of economic development trends.

“We have to adjust our products, programs and services to what market tells us to,” he said.

MDA targets newer industries such as aerospace and aviation, clean energy and data centers while maintaining a focus on traditional manufacturing and industry.

 “We’re seeing an investment in our state because of those efforts,” Swoope said. “Businesses from Russia to Silicon Valley are looking at Mississippi.”

In 2005, MDA restructured incentives and placed an emphasis on existing businesses with the development of a program called Priority One, which ensures MDA officials are touching base with major employers in the state.

That effort has apparently paid off. So far in 2010, 12 businesses have announced major expansion projects.

Some of the expansions include DG Foods in Copiah County, Community Construction Inc. in Hazlehurst, Grenada Stamping and Assembly, Lane Furniture in Lee County, Hudson Salvage in Tippah County, MTD in Tupelo, Newly Wed Foods in Horn Lake, Jamco Furniture Industries in Tishomingo County, Townhouse Home Furnishings in Smithville, Parker Hannifin in Batesville, Max Home LLC in Fulton and Abby Manufacturing in Ashland.

Swoope credited the state’s economic development team “from Gov. (Haley) Barbour down to our local economic development offices” with keeping Mississippi above water in the recession.

Swoope added, “We’ve done a very good job holding on to our existing businesses and laying the groundwork so we’ll be in a good position to take advantage of the uptick.

“We are working harder than ever to find opportunities for innovative, new jobs and to create economic wealth.”

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