Category Archives: Manufacturing

Dept of Commerce Invests $1.8 Million in Golden Triangle’s Future

Dept of Commerce Invests $1.8 Million in Golden Triangle’s Future

WASHINGTON, D.C. – From a Press Release Courtesy of the US Economic Development Association

Thad Cochran Research Park in Starkville – courtesy photo

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced yesterday that the Department’s Economic Development Administration is awarding a $1.8 million grant to the MSU Research & Technology Corporation of Starkville to help build the new Analytical Center for Advanced Microscopy and Microanalysis will be located at the Thad Cochran Research, Technology, and Economic Development Park.

“This project is the product of local leaders’ efforts to generate greater economic opportunities in Mississippi,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The new Analytical Center for Advanced Microscopy and Microanalysis will boost the state’s competitiveness by providing regional businesses with the support they need to grow while simultaneously delivering the critical workforce training necessary to help them thrive.”

The new facility will serve as an industrial resource by providing the instruments, equipment, and expertise businesses need to verify product integrity, support manufacturing, ensure quality control, and contribute to product development.

Please click here for the full press release.

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Manufacturing Business Has Blossomed in Golden Triangle in Last Decade

Manufacturing Business Has Blossomed in Golden Triangle in Last Decade

 

 

Golden Triangle – Courtesy of Harvard Business School

Over a dozen Harvard Business School faculty, led by Dean Nitin Nohria and Senior Associate Dean for Research Jan Rivkin, came to the Golden Triangle last fall to take an in-depth look into just why our area’s manufacturing business has blossomed to impressively over the past decade. Our area has a labor pool of approximately 500,000 people within a 60-mile radius, a bustling regional airport, several sizeable colleges and universities nearby, and plenty of usable land. The GTR region has brought in nearly six billion dollars in investments and industry in that time, and outsiders have been paying more and more attention: “There are so many good things happening in this area of the country,” said Rivkin. “It’s a story of leadership, cross-sector collaboration, and local competitiveness. This corner of Mississippi is competing for global firms, and often it’s winning.”

Prof Mitch Weiss, Dean Nitin Nohria, Joe Max Higgins, and Prof Jan Rivkin – courtesy photo

Rivkin’s attention was first brought to the region due to a 2016 article in the Atlantic, which prompted him to write to the fine folks at our own GTR LINK. He and others had been studying similar successes abroad, and were excited for the opportunity to learn more about something more home-grown: “We realized that we had a much better understanding of other parts of the world than we had of certain parts of America,” Rivkin recalled. “HBS faculty members used to spend a lot of time visiting those parts of the country, but we had lost touch. There was a stark need for us to reconnect with these areas and learn about them, and from them, in a changing social and political context.”

They found the people of GTR area welcoming and eager to share their knowledge: “Not only were they enormously gracious and hospitable,” Rivkin said. “They were eager for us to come and learn more.” They worked closely with the LINK to arrange times for their sixteen members to visit on October 30 and 31 of last year.

“Many of the faculty, including Dean Nohria and Professor Rivkin, intentionally selected the Golden Triangle because of the significant economic development there in the last few years,” said Alain Bonacossa, Senior Director for Research Administration and Behavioral Research Services at HBS. “They wanted to understand how that came about so they could bring those lessons to bear in the classroom and for other communities in their research.”

They began by attending a series of meetings in Columbus hosted by LINK’s charismatic CEO, Joe Max Higgins: “In the economic development business,” he explained, “coming in second equals coming in last.” They then proceeded to visit EMCC and MSU to learn about their own advancements in student training and close work with manufacturers; they also went to visit some local plants to see their work up close and personal.

Rivkin summed up his takeaways from his time well-spent in the GTR as such: “Leaders in the Golden Triangle have developed trust and hope, and it shows in the novel ways they work together . . . The Golden Triangle folks helped me see that if you’re going to be in a game like this, you’d better be very well organized and very talented. And they are .”

The HBS contingent – courtesy photo

He also said that, having read and heard many good things about our area and its focus on attracting business, these things were proven true: “You always wonder when you go to a place that’s received such glowing reviews if it will live up to its billing. The Golden Triangle did and then some.”

Joe Max Higgins has even returned the favor, going up to Harvard to spread a little of his wisdom around: “Students were deeply impressed by the collaboration shown in GTR’s revitalization, and they learned a lot about leadership from their time with Joe Max and Macaulay,” Professor Kerr said. “Their southern charm and humor also made for a riotously fun day.”

Rivkin finished by saying that “Many of the ideas from trips like these percolate in the backs of our minds and, eventually, find their way into research or teaching,” he said. “There are short-term and long-term benefits, and it’s a win-win for everyone involved. Getting out into the world is vitally important for our work here on campus.”

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Columbus Airbus Receives Major Helicopter Program Contract

Columbus Airbus Receives Major Helicopter Program Contract

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Courtesy of WCBI

Courtesy of WCBI

The Columbus Airbus Plant announced that they are to receive a $200+ million grant to help them launch a second helicopter line; they will be producing 35 UH-72A helicopters for the U.S. Army. The Army will also be contributing, to the tune of about $136 million for the production of the new aircraft. The aircraft are expected to be completed by 2021.

Talented workforce in Columbus MS will produce new UH-72A helicopters for the @USArmy. @SenatorWicker @RepTrentKelly & I announced $273.2 million contract: https://t.co/xlpqFbsteT

— Senator Thad Cochran (@SenThadCochran) March 9, 2018

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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.

Please click here for the full article.

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WAUKAWAY SPRINGS BUILDING TO BE RENOVATED

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

The Waukaway Springs Bottling Company is in the process of restoring its College Street warehouse building to as close to its original look as possible.

Jataune James sorts and cleans bricks at Waukaway Springs in Columbus Tuesday afternoon. Waukaway Springs is being restored to its former look. The building formerly housed Brown Buick Company. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

Stephen Imes, Waukaway Springs president and owner, said, “Right now, we have the mindset of taking it back to what it looked like in the 40s. We really just want to bring it back to its former glory.” He stated that the interior wil lbe renovated and repaired, and some remodeling will be done to the exterior; in addition, extensive repairs will be done to the roof, which was beginning to cave in. Among the fixes will be structural reinforcements, such as replacing old wooden beams with steel ones.

He went on to say that they have been reclaiming as much of the original building materials as possible, and that they plan to re-use them as part of this project: “Several different types of brick have come out of this process,” Imes said. “We have seen a variety of manufacturers’ work, and we plan to use as much of it as we can.” He said that his  employees are sorting and cleaning every brick by hand in the warehouse for reuse.

“We did have a picture of the Brown Buick Company to base our renovations off of,” Jim Buck Vaughan, the project contractor said. “But it’s mainly making sure we update the building, without making it entirely too modern to where it does not match the other buildings in the area.”

The building is expected to reopen in about three months, or early summer.

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LCSD and EMCC’s Learning Centers Poised to Bring Great Benefits to Local Students, Businesses

LCSD and EMCC’s Learning Centers Poised to Bring Great Benefits to Local Students, Businesses

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

The Lowndes County School District’s $11 million career tech center is on schedule to hold its first classes beginning this Fall, whole EMCC’s Communiversity is planned to open its door next year. Local small-business leaders and representatives from the LCSD and EMCC came together to discuss what these facilities will be able to to for students and their communities in the future. Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann was on hand to help bring everyone together: “An educated workforce is the answer to just about every problem we have,” Hosemann said after the two-hour meeting, which featured a round-table discussion with himself, educators and small business owners. “Right now, we have low unemployment and that’s great, but what we need is a high participation rate. We have about 1.1 million people working now. If we can get that number to 1.3 million, everything works. Health care works. The (state) budget works. Infrastructure, repairing our roads and bridges, works. Everything.

“All of that depends on building an educated workforce,” he added. “There isn’t a tractor in the Delta that doesn’t have a real complicated platform on it. If you can’t run a computer, you can’t run a tractor. It’s the same with everything.”

Katie McCrary speaks at the LCSD Career Tech Center in east Columbus Thursday afternoon – Photo by Deanna Robinson – Dispatch Staff

Katie McCrary of McCrary Construction Services, which employs about 35 workers, has organized a group of 17 area businesses to work with the LCSD; she spoke with the assembly: “Our group employs close to 2,000 people,” she said. “We appreciate the large industries in our area, because a lot of us work with them. But we need employees, too.”

“We’ve got to make school trade classes cool again,” she went on to say. “I’m passionate about that. A lot of kids don’t know what they want to do. In working with some schools, I saw kids who were academically challenged and pegged as trouble-makers because they were never going to be able to sit down and perform in math and reading and English like the kids sitting next to them.

“But when you put that kid on a motor, he finds out he has the ability to make $50,000, $75,000 a year, just like that, when (he comes) out of these programs,” she added. “It changes his whole life.”

“Come out and see us, talk to us,” EMCC President ThomasHuebner said. “Let us show you how we can use resources available for everyone. We need to be changing perceptions and working harder to integrate with businesses and the community. What are you needs? How can we help?”

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SDI Gives Credit to Columbus Facility for Helping Them Achieve Banner Year

SDI Gives Credit to Columbus Facility for Helping Them Achieve Banner Year

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Mark Millet, CEO of SDI

SDI President and CEO Mark Millett recently reported that the company’s full-year net income had more than doubled from $446 million in 2016 to $803 million, while net sales increased from $7.8 billion to $9.5 billion in 2017. He singled out their Columbus facility as being a significant contributor to their improved bottom line.

“We continue to gain market share, especially at the Columbus flat roll division with our focus on automotive direct sales,” Millet said. “We, I think, shipped about 220,000 tons of automotive (steel) from Columbus just last year, which is a massive increase,” he added. “And we’re on platforms to increase that to about 400,000 tons over the next 18 months as new platforms come into play. Firstly, the capability of the mill down there and, then, we had a great team, I think is building confidence in the auto producers.”

“I think they’re doing a great job out there,” said Lowndes County Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders. “I think that new paint line they added has helped them out. Anytime you can touch steel and add something without moving it, you add value, which I think is probably what has happened. . .My first impression of (SDI) when they came in was pure relief,” Sanders continued. “They were more accessible than the Russians had been and understood us better. I think a lot of their success has to do with the work ethic of the workforce we have here in the South. They appreciate their employees and take care of them.”

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Toyota Picks EMCC as Regional Training College

Toyota Picks EMCC as Regional Training College

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of eastms.edu

The Toyota Motor Company has selected East Mississippi Community College as one of only twelve schools from across the nation to take part in a new pilot program: Students in the  Automotive Technology will be able to earn certification through the University of Toyota’s Toyota Technician Education Program. These certifications were previously available only to Toyota employees, and are mandatory for anyone who wishes to work for them as a mechanic. Five students have already been chosen to be the first at EMCC to take part in this program; there will be no additional cost to earn these certifications via the program, and it is intended to help the participants get good jobs with Toyota straight out of college.

“The certifications they earn through the University of Toyota will stay with them for life,” EMCC Automotive Technology instructor Dale Henry said. “Let’s say a student graduates and goes to work at an independent repair shop and five years from now a job opportunity comes up at Toyota. A record of the Toyota certifications the student has earned will pull up in their system . . . The certifications are good for employment at any Toyota dealer in the nation.”

“The continuing success of our Automotive Technology program is a testament to the quality of our instructors and their dedication to providing students the best education possible,” EMCC President Dr. Thomas Huebner said. “We are grateful to Gulf States Toyota for allowing us to participate in this pilot program and to our faculty who have made this possible through their efforts. The real winners are our students who will benefit from this partnership.”

 

 

 

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Wicker: Air Force Awards $48M Contract to Develop Unmanned Aircraft in Columbus, Miss.

PRESS RELEASE

Courtesy of Roger Wicker, U. S. Senate, R-Mississippi

Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss) – Courtesy Photo

Wicker: Air Force Awards $48M Contract to Develop Unmanned Aircraft in Columbus, Miss.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, today congratulated Aurora Flight Sciences for winning a $48 million Air Force contract to continue development of Orion unmanned aircraft. These systems are built in Columbus, Miss. In 2014, Orion set the world record for unmanned aerial systems flight endurance by remaining aloft for 80 hours.

“I am pleased that the Air Force continues to have confidence in developing Aurora’s ultra-long endurance Orion military drone,” Wicker said. “Orion will provide vital information to military commanders and our troops once it is deployed. Congress should approve the proposed FY18 funding for these aircraft, so that an entire deployable system will be coming off the line in the next 18 months.”

 

Source: https://www.wicker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2018/1/wicker-air-force-awards-48m-contract-to-develop-unmanned-aircraft-in-columbus-miss

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LCSD Officials Tour Nearly-Completed Tech Center

LCSD Officials Tour Nearly-Completed Tech Center

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

From left, LCSD Superintendent Robin Ballard, assistant Superintendent Tina Younger, Superintendent Lynn Wright and Maintenance Director Greg Wheat tour the LCSD Technology Center on Lehmberg. Photo by Luisa Porter – Dispatch Staff

Several years after a narrow defeat on an (ultimately successful) bond issue, Lowndes County School District Superintendent Lynn Wright is now touring the fruits of that bond, a massive facility off of Lehmberg Road which will soon be accepting studentsfor its tech center and job training programs aimed at supplying a well-educated and well-prepared workforce for local industry. The Lowndes County Career and Technical Center is estimated to be about 55 thousand square feet in size, and it cost about $11 million to construct: The Lowndes County Career and Technical Center.

“I’d say it’s about 95 percent finished,” maintenance supervisor Greg Wheat said, as finishing touches were being applied by the workers. The facility is expected to open formally next August, and it is estimated that it will be able to comfrotably hold about 500 students. They are also in the process of acquiring the gear needed to fill the huge workrooms, and to hire faculty and staff. Nine separate fields of study — automotive service technician, construction core, teacher academy, health sciences, industrial maintenance, welding, polymer science, culinary arts and engineering/robotics — have their own dedicated spaces, and each has the room they will need to expand in the future.

Maintenance Director Greg Wheat checks out the kitchen of the new LCSD Career Technology Center – Photo by Louisa Porter – Dispatch Staff

“Right now, we have a little less than 100 students in our vocational programs at the three high schools,” Wright said. “Next fall, we expect to have 450 students enrolled in programs here. . .We’ve been working closely with Mississippi State on developing the polymer science program since it’s new for us,” he went on to say. “They are helping us find an instructor in addition to helping us put together the program. . .”We really see this as something the whole community can use. Programs like the (Greater Columbus) Learning Center are already showing interest. . .We’re not just talking about [interest from] the PACCARs and Steel Dynamics, but smaller industries, too,” he said. “We’ve really had interest from all over the county, from big and small.”

Please click here for the full article.

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