Category Archives: GTR LINK

Yokohama Reports Significant Job Growth at West Point Facility

Yokohama Reports Significant Job Growth at West Point Facility

Stacey Perusse, senior human resources manager for Yokohama Tire Corporation’s West Point plant (Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff)

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.”

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Peco Foods to Bring $40M Warehouse, 300 Jobs to West Point

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.

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VIDEO: Manufacturing Renaissance Fully Under Way in Golden Triangle

Manufacturing Renaissance Fully Under Way in Golden Triangle[VIDEO]

Courtesy of The Atlantic

GTR LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins (courtesy photo)

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.

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GTR LINK Speaking with Several Companies about New Starkville Development

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of the Dispatch

GTRD LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins talks with a Starkville Rotary Club member Monday at Starkville Country Club. He discussed Starkville’s planned industrial park at the club’s weekly meeting. Photo by Luisa Porter – The Dispatch

Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins said the LINK is ready and waiting to help make Starkville’s and Oktibbeha County’s new industrial park a reality. Higgins passed on the news while attending a meeting of the Starkville Rotary Club. He stated that the LINK is working with three companies with regards to an 80-acre parcel on the east side of the industrial park.

“We’ve got two, possibly three projects that we’re working that’ll fit [there],” Higgins said. “See, we can’t put somebody out there [in the rest of the site] until this zoning thing is closed because it puts the company and us in potentially having a bad problem. However, these companies could plug and play to go in there right now. A distribution facility could go in there right now.” He anticipates that the projects could create 175 to 300 jobs.

Higgins also spoke of a recent visit he paid to Boston and the Harvard School of Business, which is itself utilizing the information they gathered from a trip they took last fall, when they came to the Golden Triangle region in order to create two case studies for its students. He went on to say that these studies, along with the national media attention garnered by The Atlantic and by his appearance on “60 Minutes” has helped to raise the GTR’s profile and attracted the attention of groups such as Dartmouth  and the Harvard faculty:  “The world is watching what we do,” he said.

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C-L Chamber Announces New Members

C-L Chamber Announces New Members

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch – PRESS RELEASE (Exerpts)

From left, Matt Bogue, Greg Stewart and Jill Savely (courtesy photo)

Columbus Lowndes Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the results of the 2017 board election. The new members are: New CLCC Board members elected are Matt Bogue, The Dutch Oil Group; Greg Stewart, Aurora Flight Sciences; and Jill Savely, EMCC Golden Triangle Early College High School. Bogue, Stewart, and Savely will serve a three year term from October 2017- September 2020 and were elected by majority vote by the Chamber membership.

The CLCC Board Chair for 2017-2018 is Melinda Lowe, Director for the Office of Outreach and Innovation at the Mississippi University for Women.

“The Chamber would not be where we are today without their leadership, and I am grateful. I look forward to working with such a great group of inspiring leaders and a great representation of our membership,” said Lisa James, CLCC President. “Together with the staff, this group will help build a successful future for the Columbus Lowndes Chamber of Commerce.”

Board members serve staggered terms and are elected by the Chamber membership from a slate of 6 approved by the Executive Committee of the Golden Triangle Development LINK.

To see the full press release, please click here.


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Solar Companies’ Future Looking Bright in the Golden Triangle

Courtesy of The Dispatch (GOLDEN TRIANGLE REGION)


From left, Macaulay Whitaker, Orlando Trainer and Harry Sanders (Courtesy of the Dispatch)

The Boards of Supervisors in both Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties are looking to attract the attention of E.ON Climate and Renewables North America Inc, in an effort to provide it with desirable tax incentives as they consider opening up a new location in southern Lowndes, southern Oktibbeha, or possibly both. The Boards approved a matching set of resolutions of intent for E.ON, according to Golden Triangle Development LINK Chief Operating Officer Macaulay Whitaker; the bulk of the property he described is in Lowndes County. The Lowndes Board also passed a separate resolution targeting NextEra Energy, Inc., which is looking at land in south Lowndes County.


Whitaker went on to say that both companies are looking for upwards of a thousand acres of land apiece: “Both are in the same state,” Whitaker said. “They’re gathering as much info as they can to make proposals to (the Tennessee Valley Authority). . . This doesn’t mean this is all that’s looking at the area,” she added. “These are just the ones who have contacted us for assistance to determine what their options might be.”


Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer said that he hopes these resolutions will show E.ON that area leaders are serious about bringing their business to our area:

“We’re hoping that by doing this we can help this project become a reality,” Trainer said.

Silicon Ranch and Synergetics, both solar companies, have local operations in the area that are doing well.

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New Industry May Be Coming to Clay County, Bringing 300 Jobs

New Industry May Be Coming to Clay County, Bringing 300 Jobs

WEST POINT, Miss. (Courtesy of WCBI)

WCBI reports that a potential industrial development project deal that is currently being negotiated might provide a significant economic boost to Clay County.

West Point Mayor Robbie Robinson (courtesy of WCBI)

West Point selectmen and Clay County supervisors met Tuesday morning to hash out the details of a deal that has the potential to bring 300 or so jobs to the Golden Triangle area. The proposed deal is being referred to as “Project Polar” (the name of the potential employer is being kept under wraps until everything is 100% finalized). The proposed site for this $50 million project is the former Americold Logistics building, which would be purchased and upgraded by the incoming business.

Wesley Taylor, long-time West Point resident, commented that he was pleased to hear about this potential economic opportunity for his hometown. “I was very excited and happy for the community because in today’s economy everybody needs to be working if they can,” Taylor expressed.

West Point Mayor Robbie Robinson stated that “We feel we’ve done our part. We’ve offered industrial ad valorem tax exemptions for this new industry that we’re pleased with, and think we’ll be able to bring them here to West Point and Clay County.”

The city and county are working with the GTR LINK to bring in the project. CEO Joe Max Higgins said the actions the city and county made on Tuesday were vital at this stage. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with community leaders in West Point and Clay County to make our region a better place to work and live,” he said.


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Infinity Megasite Could Be an Excellent Car Plant Location, Says GTR LINK

Infinity Megasite Could Be an Excellent Car Plant Location, Says GTR LINK

Courtesy of The Dispatch

Toyota and Mazda announced just a few weeks ago that they are  looking and a number of sites nationwide to build a joint auto production plant. Our own Joe Max Higgins says that the recently-set up Infinity Megasite (IMS) right here in the Golden Triangle is the best candidate within the State of Mississippi for such a project. The IMS now controls 1,444 acres of the Golden Triangle Industrial Aerospace Park on Hwy 82 west of Columbus: “We believe that if Mississippi’s putting its best foot forward, we’re probably the first pick,” Higgins said.

Joe Max Higgins, left, and Harry Sanders

While the proposed plant is still in its very earliest days of consideration, Bloomberg seems to agree saying that the IMS could very well be one of the top few candidates for the $1.6 billion project, which is expected to bring roughly 4,000 jobs to the general area.

“Understand this –Toyota’s not an unknown commodity,” Higgins said. “. . .If Toyota knocks on your door, you open it and you offer them some coffee, some Coke, some pastries if you got them and you say ‘What can I do for you?'”

Lowndes BoS  President Harry Sanders said that, “The thing about it is, think what it would do for Lowndes County and this portion of the Golden Triangle, with all the high-quality jobs. I think it would be great to get an automotive industry here.”

“In Mississippi, look at the battles that have been won,” Higgins said. “If we roll the clock back 20 years, most people would tell you there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell Mississippi could get a car plant. But in 15, 16 years we’ve gotten two (Nissan in Canton, Toyota in Blue Springs). I think that’s a good testament to the state of Mississippi. Could we support a third one? Yeah, I think we could.”

He also stated his confidence in the region’s ability to meet the potential plant’s needs, and that its proximity to MSU’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, could also be a major factor in any decision to be made: “Everybody wants to sell that their workforce can be retrained to make steel, or retrained to make cars or retrained to make tires,” Higgins said. “I don’t think most communities are selling that 20-, 30- and 40-year sustainable workforce. See, I’m not worried about where I’m getting my initial tranche of people to run my plant. These plants are worried about who’s gonna be running that son of a gun in 10, 15, or 20 or 40 years.”


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Method of Communiversity Funding Under Discussion

Method of Communiversity Funding Under Discussion

Courtesy of The Dispatch

GTR LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins reports that he and the LINK are working on a plan to potentially have Lowndes County pay for its share of the Communiversity’s funding via a ten-year bond rather than a 20-year bond, thus saving the county nearly $2 million in interest over that time. Under his proposal, “I believe there’s a way around this that nobody gets gored, everybody gets what they want to do and there’s no harm, no foul, to anybody,” Higgins said.

The Communiversity, which broke ground a few months ago, is located on Highway 82 just west of PACCAR. The total bill for the facility will be around $44 million, which will be paid for via $18 million in state money, $12.5 million in federal dollars, and $13.5 million in local funding, with Lowndes County picking up the bulk of the local tab.

District 2 Supervisor Bill Brigham said he’d likely support a split issue, and that a shorter payment term would lead to higher payments, but save the county money over time: “If it works out, yes, I’m for it,” he said. “It can save us short of $2 million. You don’t just throw money away when it’s not necessary.”

Board President Harry Sanders also expressed support for the split issue.

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Zoning Approved for Starkville Industrial Park

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of The DIspatch

Circuit Judge James Kitchens recently affirmed a recent zoning change for a proposed 360-acre industrial park near Hwy 182 & Hwy 389. Starkville aldermen had previously re-zoned the parcel in question as appropriate for Manufacturing, but that decision was challenged by LMK LLC, Bettye Bell, Mary S. Bell, Margaret Copeland and Laura B. White. Judge Kitchens said that these appellants were unable to meet their burden “to show that the decision was invalid.”

As such, GTR LINK plans to go ahead and seek funding to the tune of $14 million that had been pledged by the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors and Starkville Board of Aldermen.

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