Global aerospace leaders are calling Mississippi home in growing numbers. Compelling business advantages like the state’s low operating costs, minimal tax burden, easy access to U.S. and international markets and proximity to important military installations have attracted numerous aviation companies to the state, and they are thriving as a result Mississippi’s productive, well-trained workforce.
The state works with its network of 15 community colleges and universities to create customized training programs to meet companies’ specific needs. These programs equip employees with the skills they need to ensure the success of aerospace companies in the state. Mississippians are now engaged in the production everything from helicopters to unmanned aerial vehicles to composite jet engine components.
In fact, Mississippi has played an integral role in the continued growth and success of aviation leaders like GE Aviation, Rolls-Royce, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Airbus Group, Northrop Grumman, Aurora Flight Sciences, and Stark Aerospace.
GE Aviation recently opened its second manufacturing facility in the state in Ellisville, Miss., to meet an increase in the global demand for the company’s products. Local community colleges played a pivotal role in training GE Aviation’s workforce to build advanced composite components for aircraft engines and systems.
“GE’s partnership with the state of Mississippi is creating long-term economic growth. Based upon the success at our Batesville operation, we look forward to the growth of our new Ellisville operation,” said David Joyce, president and CEO of GE Aviation.
Additionally, the state’s research institutions collaborate with companies on R&D initiatives to further develop their products and Advanced Manufacturing Takes Flight enhance their performance. The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Polymers and High Performance Materials partnered with GE Aviation on the company’s technology and advanced material development at its Batesville, Miss., location and utilized similar initiatives for the company’s Ellisville operations.
The Mississippi Polymer Institute is an integral part of Mississippi’s aerospace industry. MPI helps companies in the plastics/polymer industry solve technical challenges, train employees and improve processes and products. The institute has one of the most advanced rapid prototyping systems in the world and operates as a full-service resource for polymerrelated industries.
In addition to the Mississippi Polymer Institute, the Raspet Flight Research Laboratory located at Mississippi State University is a world-class aerospace research facility. Established in 1948, Raspet offers research and development services to optimize aerospace companies’ products, including full-scale flight vehicle development and testing, advanced composites development and fabrication, computer-controlled manufacturing and tests of prototype composite structures components. Mississippi State is also home to an aerospace engineering degree program where students receive hands-on aerospace research experience.
A right-to-work state, Mississippi’s competitive advantages also include low energy costs, a one-stop permitting process and a
customized incentives portfolio, including the Aerospace Incentives Program, which provides tax incentives to aerospace-related businesses that locate in the state. Numerous benefits like these have earned the state top national rankings touting its favorable business climate.
Mississippi aerospace companies also enjoy close proximity to several federal installations including two Air Force bases, a Naval Air Station and NASA’s Stennis Space Center. Stennis has played a crucial role in all space missions since the 1960s and is home to operations and research commands for the U.S. Navy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. Special Forces.
POSITIONED FOR GROWTH
In 2014, Mississippi announced several location and expansion projects in the aerospace sector. In April, commercial spaceflight company SpaceX opened its rocket engine component testing program at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, which houses the largest rocket engine test complex in the nation. SpaceX conducts initial testing of its Raptor methane rocket engines at the E-2 test stand the company upgraded with methane capability, making it one of the most sophisticated high-pressure testing facilities in the world.
“SpaceX is proud to bring the Raptor testing program to NASA’s Stennis Space Center and the great state of Mississippi,” said Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX. “In partnership with NASA, SpaceX has helped create one of the most advanced engine testing facilities in the world, and we look forward to putting the stand to good use.”
Mississippi also works hand-in-hand with the state’s existing companies to help them grow and succeed. In November 2013, defense contractor Raytheon announced plans for a 20,000-square-foot, $100 million expansion at its Forest, Miss., location to accommodate new contracts and anticipated growth. Since 1983, Raytheon has added more than 30 programs in Forest and has expanded to three shifts per day.
The state has a long, rich history in the aerospace industry, dating back to the 1930s with Pioneer Aerospace, a Zodiac Company, locating operations in the state – Mississippi’s first resident aerospace business. Since then, Mississippi’s aerospace sector has taken off and is poised for even more growth and prosperity thanks to its productive workforce, prime location, low cost of doing business and innovative resources.
To learn more about the advantages of locating aerospace and advanced manufacturing operations in Mississippi, please visit
Mississippi.org/Aerospace or call 1.800.360.3323.
Visit ExpansionSolutionsMagazine.com/Mississippi_ed for local economic development office directory listings.