If you are a member of any of the area Chambers, Partnerships, etc…or if you just want to meet some good people and mingle, swing by for Business After Hours at the GTR Airport tonight!
Category Archives: GTR LINK
COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch
German journalist Steffen Weyer was just one of over two dozen European journalists and Airbus reps who took in a tour of the Airbus facility while on the North American Airbus Tour. “It’s interesting to see how they’re built here and how they’re organized,” Weyer said.
He went on to say that the Hamburg, Germany Airbus location mostly produces airplanes, whereas the Columbus facility produces helicopters. He also said that he had no idea how large the facility was, nor of its community impact: “It is a very small city, but it seems that a company like Airbus comes here offers education and possibilities for people to stay here,” Weyer said. “I see that there is
The Airbus North American tour began at their Canadian facility, followed by Columbus and then Mobile, AL, and was aimed primarily at visitors who were not part of the European operation.
Airbus, an international company, has nearly 25,000 employees worldwide, including its four locations in America. The Columbus location opened in 2006 and has nearly 200 employees who manufacture two to three Lakota Helicopters each month for the U.S. Army.
“I can’t tell you how that decision changed this region,” GTR LINK Joe MAx Higgins said. “I don’t know if we could have attracted Steel Dynamics or Paccar if it weren’t for (Airbus).”
COLUMBUS/LOWNDES – Courtesy of The Dispatch
As Lowndes County’s somewhat controversial 30-year-old restaurant sales tax expired back in June, a replacement tax has been proposed which seems to have near-universal support in the Legislature. Should it be approved, this previously-expired tax will bring back the 2% restaurant tax for the area. Note that this would only affect Columbus eateries whose total food & beverage sales exceed $100 thousand per year.
$400K of the expected revenue has been earmarked for the City, another $300K has been reserved for the County for use in “tourism, special events, recreation and entertainment,” and a further $250K for the GTR LINK’s economic development services. The remainder will go to the CVB.
“When it gets down here, it may very well have a direct referendum added (which would require a citizen vote before the tax could be enacted),” said Rep. Gary Chism (R-Lowndes County), who serves on the House Local and Private Committee that handles such sales tax legislation. “This is the way I drafted the bill because that is what the city and county wanted (in their resolutions), and I support it.”
Mayor Robert Smith reports that the City intends to use its share of the projected revenues to help pay for an estimated $1.6 million in ball field improvements at Propst Park, as well as building the second phase of the Sen. Terry Brown Amphitheater at The Island.
Supervisors’ President Harry Sanders stated that the County is considering using its share to make a “regional” sports complex.
Kudos to the Dispatch for staying on top of this!
Paccar Planning to More Than Double Existing Space
CEO of the Golden Triangle LINK, Joe-Max Higgins recently announced that Paccar plans to invest about $7 million in additional warehousing and shipping space, adding 150,000 square feet to their existing 100,000 logistics center facility. Once the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors approves the project, groundbreaking is expected to take place almost immediately.
Joe Max Higgins on Bringing Industry to Starkville
STARKVILLE – Courtesy of the Dispatch
GTR LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins recently met with the Starkville board of aldermen, Oktibbeha County board of supervisors and Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority to talk about the issue of trust. He feels that economic development depends on it.
From his perspective, he needs to know that he and the LINK can trust that they know what the area’s county and local officials expect, so as to make sure that proposals for economic investment will get heard and acted upon. He stated that, in Lowndes and Clay counties, he has a pretty good grasp on that; for Oktibbeha, not so much: “I do (know) in the other places,” Higgins said. “I don’t have that comfort here. . .there’s some of you that I don’t know how you’re going to vote and it’s scary,” he added.
On the flip side, Higgins stated that local leaders will need to know that they can trust the LINK to keep the cities’ and counties’ best interests in mind when bringing them new prospects and proposals: “We don’t go after and heavily incentivize deals that don’t pay more than our county averages,” Higgins said. “You can’t make your place be a better place by going after jobs. You need to go after good jobs.”
District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard spoke on the importance of such trust: “We’ve just got to trust Joe Max and his team. To this point, they’ve been good about keeping us in the loop,” Howard said. “But as things speed up, we’re not going to be able to call everybody together every time. He’s going to have to be comfortable that we trust him enough to say, ‘Joe Max is not going to bring us a bad deal.'”
Yokohama Going Strong as it Approaches its Third Year in West Point
WEST POINT, MS – Courtesy of the Mississippi Business Journal
About three years back, Yokohama Tire Corp. president Hikomitsu Noji had been looking at sites in nearly every state of the union to find the perfect location for their first “built from scratch” U.S. Facility. Once he got a good look at West Point, he decided that this was the place for his $300 million baby. The city and county, at the time, was still suffering the long-term aftereffects of the 2007 closing of the Bryan Foods plant, which eliminated over 1,200 jobs. Fast forward to today, and the plant employs 650 full-time employees – they had originally anticipated 500 – and they hope to add nearly triple that in the future.
“It’s been all positive and we couldn’t be more pleased with having Yokohama here,” said West Point mayor Robbie Robinson. “There’s always hiccups with any new venture and there have been some. When they chose to build the facility here, it was like we hit the lottery. . .West Point and Clay County are very happy.”
Joe Max Higgins, GTR LINK CEO and vocal promoter of entrepreneurship in the GTR, took Noji and others on a helicopter ride that included the ruins of the old Bryan plant: “The Yokohama president told me ‘I want to see Sara Lee’ and we loaded up in the helicopter we’d rented for the day and took three or four passes over the demolished site”, said Higgins. “After the fourth pass, the man just looked at me and nodded without a word. There was an emotional connection. . . I knew at that moment that we’d landed Yokohama.”
Dan Funkhouser, Yokohama’s vice-president of commercial sales noted that the addition of the West Point plant is critical to the company’s continued growth in North America: “The commercial tire market is very strong and growing,” he said. “Both the replacement and OEM tire markets are expanding. This fits in perfectly with the Mississippi plant, which will increase our capabilities to service our OEM and replacement partners as they grow.”
Higgins proudly stated,“I think West Point and Clay County have turned the corner.”
Steel Dynamics to Increase Steel Production at Columbus Location
COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of WTVA
The GTR LINK recently announced Steel Dynamics’ plans to invest $200 million into its flat roll steel plant here in Columbus. They anticipate that the expansion will add as many as 45 jobs to the plant over the next three years as the changes are phased in.
Yokohama Reports Significant Job Growth at West Point Facility
WEST POINT – Courtesy of The Dispatch
Yokohama Tire Corporation’s West Point plant opened in fall 2015. They have reported that they are “continually” hiring new employees, bringing the current total to over 650, despite having been here for only about three years. Senior Human Resources Manager Stacey Perussespoke to the Rotary Club recently: “About a year ago, we were right around 500 (employees),” she said. “We actually had a job fair here in Starkville last August and we had over 700 people come.” She reports that they hire about fifteen new people every Monday, and that they’re always looking for new talent; they start employees at $14.50/hr, with semiannual pay raises for the first six years.
Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins said, “We’re pleased with Yokohama’s progress thus far,” Higgins said. “They have already exceeded all of their obligations for phase one, including employing more than 500 people and investing more than $300 million.”
Peco Foods to Bring $40M Warehouse, 300 Jobs to West Point
WEST POINT, Miss. (Excerpt/Edited PRESS RELEASE) –Courtesy of WCBI
Peco Foods CEO Mark Hickman announced today that the company is locating in the existing 185,000-square-foot cold-storage warehouse formerly occupied by AmeriCold in West Point. The Tusaloosa, AL-based company is planning to spend $40 million to construct the facility, and anticipates that it will create three hundred local jobs as a result.
“The addition of the West Point facility to the Peco Foods’ portfolio and the creation of so many new jobs for the people of the Golden Triangle Region demonstrate how existing companies in our state benefit from our productive workforce and prime location in the fastest growing region of the U.S.,” Gov. Phil Bryant said.
“It’s exciting to welcome more jobs to the West Point area,” said Mayor Robbie Robinson. “This company is providing jobs in a sector we’re familiar with, in a more advanced environment, with a high rate of pay for our citizens. It’s a great opportunity.”
Peco Foods has more than 6,000 employees and six state-of-the-art poultry complexes in Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas which supply a broad range of products and services to national restaurant chains, regional food service distributors and retail grocers, as well as international accounts.
Manufacturing Renaissance Fully Under Way in Golden Triangle[VIDEO]
Courtesy of The Atlantic
The Columbus area, a long-time center of manufacturing in the region, lost many of the core businesses that kept driving it forward in the early 2000’s, as many of the manufacturing jobs fled overseas. However, the people of this area have worked hard to do something about that. The results began to show in earnest in the early 2010’s, as more and more factories have been coming to town, and the end is nowhere in sight!
Joe Max Higgins, CEO of the GTR LINK, noted that that sort of economic turnaround is “something just doesn’t typically happen in places this small and this rural in the South.” Here in Columbus, we’re proud to be bucking that trend.
Atlantic national correspondent James Fallows and contributing writer Deborah Fallows have spent three years exploring small town America by air, “taking seriously places that don’t usually get registered seriously.”
Please click here for the video.
Please click here for the full article.