By JULIA MILLER
Since breaking ground in 2016, Continental Tires has been working diligently to get it’s $1.4 billion plant up and running full force by 2020, but it won’t take that long for the company to start making economic waves.
“Continental has already been a great steward to the community,” said Greg Word, Senior Vice-President of Economic Development at the Greater Jackson Alliance. “They’ve donated technology to local schools on top of taxes paid to schools.”
In fact, Clinton’s Director of Communications Mark Jones said Continental’s interest in local schools reaches beyond its initial donation of Apple TVs to the Clinton Public School District. Plans include to take students from all grade levels, from preschool through high school, out to the plant to tour in hopes of creating a culture that shows the opportunities right here at home.
“There will be generations that step into opportunity,” Jones said. “They recently spoke to ROTC students and said ‘You exemplify the type of employees we want.’”
Continental Tires is projected to add 2,500 jobs within nine years of the beginning of production, with an average of $40,000 salaries. According to the Mississippi State Institute for Higher Learning’s economic impact study, more than $47 million is expected to be added to the the Mississippi State revenue through tax receipts.
On a local level, Clinton is already seeing an increase in sales tax revenue from construction crews staying and eating in Clinton. Their tourism collection has increased by 10 percent, with most hotels reporting an 85 to 95 percent occupancy during the week.
“Our hotels are full,” Jones said. “Our restaurants are picking up.”
Although Clinton’s sales tax revenues are the same as this time last year, Jones said it’s important to compare it to the drop in sales tax revenues across the state. He also added that over the past three years, their collections had been up 10 to 15 percent, and they’ve been able to maintain that.
“If you’re seeing a decrease across the board, that’s a good sign that things are staying here,” he said.
One of the challenges of the anticipated increase in demand for labor has been the tight housing market in Clinton. Jones said right now there are less than 100 houses on the market in the Clinton School District not currently under contract. Residential construction crews have responded with two or three new residential developments either under constructions or planning to begin soon to be ready for the new employment.
Jones said he believes part of Clinton’s pull is the quality schools as well as its proximity to Hinds Community College, and Continental isn’t the only company seeing that. In addition to announcements of expansions from existing industries, Jones said they’ve had significant inquiries from other companies and a large development is expected to be announced soon.
“We’re seeing developments that are looking at Clinton as a viable market,” he said.
According to the Continental Tires website, recruitment for employees is expected to begin in October. Production on test tires is expected to start at the beginning of 2019. For information about employment opportunities, business-to-business events or the status of the project, visit mississippi.org/continental.
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