Governor Phil Bryant Champions the Business of Manufacturing in Mississippi
Governor Phil Bryant, Mississippi’s 64th governor, has a sincere passion for growing business in Mississippi and pride in being a part of this great state. If you have heard Governor Bryant speak on the issue of business and manufacturing, you have witnessed his enthusiasm. Says the governor, “Not only is Mississippi home to advanced manufacturing and research and development, our manufacturing industry is at an all-time high for growth and vitality.”
In Mississippi, manufacturing is considered a cornerstone industry. According to Jay Moon, president of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, it is estimated that 12% of jobs in Mississippi are in manufacturing, and as many as 33% of Mississippi jobs are directly or indirectly related to manufacturing. It is an industry that has always been successful and important to the state and the state economy. This is a perspective embraced by our governor, who states very matter-of-factly, “Manufacturing drives the economy. It always has and it always will.” That recognition influences political and private direction. And, when a state has a governor who is dedicated to business development, and manufacturing in particular, the level of support can be impactful.
Governor Bryant is ever-ready with many facts that demonstrate the strength of the manufacturing industry in Mississippi. in fact, with an industry this strong, it is not difficult to come up with a very long list. Here are a few of those facts.
A few of Mississippi’s shining stars
- Nissan Motor Company
The Mississippi plant was established just over 10 years ago and now manufactures over 340,000 vehicles per year. Mississippi is the only state in the U.S. to manufacture the Murano. Nissan employs 7,000 Mississippians to manufacture their products here in the state.
- Ingalls Shipbuilding
The Ingalls Shipbuilding Mississippi manufacturing facility is home to some of the most advanced naval shipbuilding in the world, including DDG 51 destroyers and National Security Cutters for the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.
- Toyota Motor Corporation
In February 2015, the new Toyota plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi, manufactured their 500,000th Corolla. The new plant produced 180,000 Corollas in 2014 and met their half-million benchmark faster than any Toyota plant in the U.S.
- Airbus Helicopters
Columbus, Mississippi, is home to the Airbus Helicopters manufacturing facility. Airbus Helicopters manufactures a dozen helicopter models and supplies both commercial clients and the U.S. Army. They also manufacture the AS350 B3, known as the helicopter that conquered Mount Everest.
- Stark Aerospace
Stark Aerospace is the manufacturer of cutting edge unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) used for national defense. They feature a 100,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Columbus, Mississippi.
Coming soon to Mississippi
- Yokohama Tire Corporation
The new West Point, Mississippi Yokohama plant is scheduled to be complete and begin production in October 2015, and plans to hire 500 employees. This plant will be the first greenfield site in North America for the company. Yokohama chose Mississippi for its new facility after a review process that included 28 states and close to 3000 locations.
A Manufacturing Friendly Environment
Mississippi is committed to creating an environment conducive to nurturing its manufacturing industry. Currently Mississippi boasts being a leader in the country by achieving:
- 6th in the nation for overall costs
- 5th in the nation for permitting speed
- 4th in the nation in being tax friendly
In a state where manufacturing is central to the economic portfolio, it only makes sense that there are structured, strategic initiatives designed to maintain a world-class environment.
One critical element for the success of any manufacturing company, new or existing, is workforce. To that end, Mississippi has several initiatives in place to ensure an able workforce today, and in the future.
- Using unemployment reserves to invest $24-26 million per year in workforce training.
- The implementation of the Work Force One program, which is dedicated to developing tailored educational programs in partnership with manufacturers and community colleges to bring new workers up to speed on specific skill sets for existing jobs. Instruction and curriculum development is provided by both the colleges and the manufacturers to ensure that students graduate “job ready.”
- A push on Science, Technology, English, and Math (STEM) in schools to prepare up-and-coming generations for the workforce. States Bryant, “The ninth grader of today is the workforce of tomorrow.”
One approach pursued in Mississippi is to promote research by connecting major manufacturers with targeted university research programs in joint ventures. This pursuit provides several advantages including:
- Improving products
- Training a research and development capable, advanced workforce
- Providing vertical integrity to the research programs
Says Bryant, “GE Aviation opened a 300,000-square-foot assembly plant in Batesville, Mississippi and entered into a research partnership with the Southern Miss School of Polymers and High Performance Materials where they innovated the use of polymer components in jet engines and significantly reduced their weight, translating into lower fuel requirements and reduced maintenance costs.”
Being tax friendly reduces overall production costs in manufacturing and is a significant attractor to manufacturing companies in choosing locations. Mississippi has several initiatives to create a tax-friendly environment, including:
- Cutting taxes
- Working on eliminating the franchise tax
The backbone of most manufacturing industries is the energy used to produce their products. Mississippi offers significant advantage in its energy profile including:
- One of the nation’s lowest energy costs at 5-7 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to the average cost of 20-25 cents experienced in many states
- An abundant natural gas supply and a transportation system to make it available to businesses statewide
A healthy manufacturing economy depends on a climate that provides the resources and advantages needed by the industry today, as well as keeping up and preparing for the needs of manufacturing tomorrow. Says Bryant, “The technology and workforce requirements have experienced tremendous change in just the last 10 years. For example, in automobile manufacturing, the technology involved in the Murano produced by our Nissan plant is now as advanced as aircraft technology.”
Three key essential areas of expertise in nearly every manufacturing today are:
- Vertical Integration
Those essential areas help guide research direction, partnerships, and educational initiatives to ensure the stability of the industry across the state.
Mississippi also has the additional advantage of, as Bryant calls it, a “quality of life” workforce that is dedicated and generational. That is, Mississippi is blessed with a workforce that “shows up on time. Does a good day’s work. Goes to church on Sunday. And helps out on their kids’ game team.”
Governor Bryant is a native Mississippian who has risen to governor. Not surprisingly, he feels strong sentiment for his home state. Says Bryant, “I love the quality of life and the hospitality of the people. I love Mississippi.”
In Mississippi, we have a governor who supports our healthy and growing manufacturing industry, and is personally vested in the well-being of the industry for the benefit of the state. That is a partnership worth paying attention to and investing in for the betterment of the state, the citizens, and the entire industry of manufacturing in Mississippi.