Most people know Mississippi for its music, its food and its Southern hospitality, but the state also is home to burgeoning industries that add millions of dollars to the economy and employ thousands of people.
It takes nearly five hours to drive the 325 miles from Hancock County along the state’s coast to Blue Springs., near the Tennessee line. Between those two places are aerospace and automotive companies known all over the world.
Mississippi’s strong business climate, which includes a dynamic workforMce, has attracted companies that build everything from cars to rockets to the most advanced warships in the world.
The state has six interstates, 14 U.S. highways, three navigable waterways, 15 ports, five Class 1 railroads and seven commercial airports giving companies convenient access to domestic and international markets.
Mississippi also boasts competitive energy rates, a low cost of living, comprehensive workforce training and cutting-edge research and development.
These are only a few of the reasons aerospace and automotive companies decided to locate in the Magnolia State.
Every commercial airplane in the world has at least one component made in Mississippi. The state also is home to the nation’s largest rocket engine test complex – NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Hancock County.
Some of the world’s most renowned names in aerospace have a Mississippi location: GE Aviation, Airbus Helicopters, Rolls-Royce and Lockheed Martin, just to name a few. All of these companies rely on Mississippi’s supportive business environment to achieve success and maintain their competitive edge.
In 2013, spaceflight company SpaceX brought its rocket engine testing program to Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, home of NASA’s largest rocket testing site. SpaceX upgraded the site’s E-2 test stand with methane capabilities and began testing its Raptor methane-fueled rocket engines there. In 2019, aerospace company Relativity followed suit by expanding its rocket component production and rocket engine testing operations at Stennis Space Center, investing $59 million and increasing employment to 200 workers.
Relativity is the first and only company to integrate metal 3D printing, robotics and software to build and launch rockets in days instead of years. In addition to expanding Stennis Space Center’s E-4 test complex with a build-out of four additional upgraded test cells, Relativity has secured an agreement with NASA for an exclusive lease of a 220,000-square-foot facility with an 80-foot-high bay and strong industrial capability. This will enable the company to build its patented autonomous rocket factory in Hancock County and integrate production and testing operations into one space, reducing lead time to launch for commercial orbital launch services.
Unmanned aerial systems also are taking flight in Mississippi. Three companies manufacture UAS in the state: Aurora Flight Sciences, Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems and Stark Aerospace. The Mississippi Development Authority works with these companies as well as public partners, such as Camp Shelby, a state-owned military facility, to further research and test these unmanned aerial systems.
Raspet Flight Research Laboratory at Mississippi State University is the public sponsor of a Certificate of Authorization for flight testing of the Heron, a Stark Aerospace UAS. Raspet often locates research staff on site to support engineering, design and flight testing of large-scale UAS. In 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration designated MSU as home of the Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, an MSU-led coalition of dozens of world-renowned universities and more than 100 government and industry partners working together to safely integrate UAS into the national airspace.
Hinds Community College’s UAV Pilot Training Program partners with Pearl River Community College and the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center. This program offers academic and hands-on curriculums and is available to both active military and civilians.
Mississippi also is at the forefront of the automotive industry.
The state’s two automobile manufacturers are Nissan and Toyota. Nissan opened its plant in Canton in 2003 and has produced more than 4,000,000 vehicles. Toyota is in its 12th year of operations in Blue Springs. The plant has 2,000 employees who assemble the best-selling Corolla.
Currently, there are nine models of vehicles manufactured in Mississippi, with more than 500,000 vehicles produced in the state each year. Mississippi also has more than 200 automotive suppliers employing more than 20,000 skilled workers.
In addition to car manufacturers, Mississippi has a number of companies that produce tires and automotive parts. Some of these include Continental Tire, Yokohama Tire and Cooper Tire & Rubber.
Continental, the world’s fourth-largest tire manufacturer, opened its new commercial truck tire plant in October 2019. The plant reflects an investment of $1.45 billion and is creating 2,500 new jobs.
Early in 2018, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company announced plans to locate its largest distribution center in Marshall County. The company is investing $50.5 million in the state and creating approximately 100 jobs.
Mississippi’s universities and community colleges provide workforce training and conduct critical research.
The 15 community colleges offer more than 26,400 training classes and serve more than 550 companies with customized training solutions. This includes Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Partners Program, which works with industries across North Mississippi to train highly skilled electronics engineering technicians, and the Center for Manufacturing Technology Excellence at East Mississippi Community College, an advanced technology training center used by businesses to conduct worker training. The center offers manufacturing skills certification classes, M3 Production-level certificates and skills training, as well as specialized training for companies.
Three of Mississippi’s research universities also play a vital role in economic and workforce development in the automotive industry. MSU houses the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, while the Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi provides students with everything needed to compete in the world of modern manufacturing. The Mississippi Polymer Institute at the University of Southern Mississippi is a national leader in the study of composites, advanced materials, polymers and plastics.
Strong Incentives Portfolio
Mississippi has an ideal environment for growth, including a strong incentives portfolio. During the 2019 legislative session, legislators reduced the amount of capital investment and minimum number of jobs required for aerospace companies and data centers, both of which have a strong presence in Mississippi, to qualify for incentives. Additionally, MDA is authorized to issue $3 million in bonds for site development improvements. Economic developers at the state and local levels collaborate with businesses to customize incentives packages to best meet their needs and ensure a seamless location or expansion.
To learn more about the new legislation, go to mississippi.org/edge. For a full description of all incentives, grants and loans available for businesses locating or expanding in the state, go to mississippi.org/locate-here/incentives.
Come see for yourself how Mississippi can be part of your winning formula. To join the growing list of industry leaders calling Mississippi home, visit Mississippi.org or call the Locate Mississippi team at 1-800-360-3323.