Category Archives: Other Manufacturing

Football and Spices and Bars, Oh My!

GTR REGION – Courtesy of the Dispatch

1920 Hwy 45 in Columbus will soon be the home of a new sports bar called “Yo’Bar.” The venue is the brainchild of Ledrico Isaac, who has been working hard on the idea for nearly five years.  The place will have food and drink as well as a mechanical bull, karaoke, football games on the TV’s.

On a related note, The Elbow Room will re-open (under its original ownership) while they look for a buyer. They’re asking for just under $190K, including their recipes book.

Rex’s Direct Foods on Alabama St. was recently purchased by Slyvia Graham, a loyal customer who jumped at the chance to buy the store when the original owner decided to retire. She hopes to expand the variety of items on offer.

In Starkville, variety shop Tuesday Morning has moved to its new location at 402 Mississippi Hwy 12.

In Clay County:

Peco Foods will be holding a job fair this Saturday from 10AMto 2PM at the EMCC CMTE Building in Mayhew. Interested applicants should register with

The West Point Peco location is hiring maintenance technicians, management-supervisors, management trainees, experienced forklift operators, and refrigerator technicians.

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International Paper Keeps Going On Strong in Columbus

International Paper Keeps Going On Strong in Columbus

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

David Phillips, Columbus Mill manager for International Paper – Photo by Mary Pollitz

Columbus Mill Manager David Phillips recently spoke to the Rotarians at Lion Hills Center in Columbus about his facility, which was acquired by International Paper a couple of years ago, and the company’s plans for the future. They have begun a new initiative called “IP Way Forward,” having already invested $135,000 within the local community as a way of giving back to the good people of Columbus. Their initiative calls for the company to focus on “[I]nvesting in people, sustaining forests, improving the planet, innovative products and inspiring performance.” This includes helping out the less fortunate by assisting with education, hunger, and medical programs.

Kellum Kim, mill communications manager said that they wish to continue the good works done by Weyerhauser, the prior owners of the mill, with regards to the community in Lowndes County: “People that know Weyerhaeuser, know that they did a lot of great things in the community, they just did more behind the scenes,” Kim said. “What we are really trying to change is getting more hands-on, (and) get more of our team members involved.”

“Part of the IP Way Forward is to provide value for stakeholders,” Phillips said. “One of our stakeholders is the community and so we want to make sure we are providing value for the community that our employees live in.”

Kim added: “It’s all about investing in our communities and being a good steward of our communities and what we can do to make our community a better place for everyone in Lowndes County.”

The mill currently has about 325 full-time employees, including thirty who were brought on board this year. They also contract up to a hundred workers per day, and their average pay rate is about $28/hr. Philips noted that the mill is largely self-sustaining, as they generate all of their own power by harnessing the steam generated by burning tree bark that might not otherwise be useful; they also use the surrounding 65-acre marsh to treat their wastewater.

International Paper and their Columbus Mill are giving back to their local community while making products that we use every day — and THAT’S Good for Business!

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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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Toyota Picks EMCC as Regional Training College

Toyota Picks EMCC as Regional Training College

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of

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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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.


Please click here for the full article and a video.

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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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Enterprising Local Businessman Making a Living Reselling Old Housing Materials


Enterprising Local Businessman Making a Living Reselling Old Housing Materials

COLUMBUS – The Dispatch

Columbus native Jacob Parnell has be running a successful business for the past three years that purchases unwanted, reclaimed constructions materials from older demolished houses and resells them to interested buyers. Things such as timbers from as little as a century ago, bricks, and other handcrafted bits and pieces, etc.,  have all proven very popular: “I’ve got stuff spread around all over the place,” he said.

Parnell went on to say that he hopes to move to a larger warehouse facility in a year or so.

Jacob Parnell of Mississippi Reclaimed (courtesy photo)

Others have also followed in his footsteps, albeit on a smaller scale. Kathy Arinder, director of the Columbus-Lowndes Habitat for Humanity, did so earlier this year. The owner of a large 1880’s-era house on 7th Street donated it to Habitat; Arinder and the Habitat board decided to salvage the house and resell the usable materials at their Gardner Ave location; it took about three months to complete the salvage operation.

Arinder said the store had sold the last of the material earlier this month: “I knew this stuff would be popular,” she said. “But I had no idea how popular it really was. It just flew out of our store.”

Pannell was one of the major buyers from this reclamation: “I bought quite a lot of their stuff,” he said.

He explained how he got started: “My mom had an old brick building that was falling apart,” Pannell said. “I knew that the bricks could be resold. So I tore the building down, salvaged what I could.”

He went on to explain that getting materials isn’t all that hard in the area, but that transporting them is very expensive. As a result, he has switched from an all-in-one service (demolition, hauling off, etc) to one where he simply buys and resells the materials.

His website can be found at

For the full article, click here

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MSU’s Unmanned Aviation Program is Flying High

MSU’s Unmanned Aviation Program is Flying High

MSU Ag Drone (courtesy photo, MDA/Mississippi Works)

Courtesy of MDA/Mississippi Works

Unmanned flying drones have become more complex, and more popular, over the past several years, and Mississippi is now leading the push to develop better and better units. The FAA has named Mississippi State as the home of the Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, making it *the* place to be for research of this kind. Mississippi’s will be working with the Center of Excellence is to help introduce UAV and UAS technologies to our nation and to the world in a safe, responsible manner. MSU collaborates with ASSURE (Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence), which is made up of over 20 research universities from around the world and industry partners.

The applications of this technology are myriad, and its potential economic impact on the state and nation are expected to be both far-reaching and very significant.Over one hundred aerospace companies have chosen to hedge their bets with the state of Mississippi, including international industry leaders such as Aurora Flight Sciences, Northrop Grumman, Stark Aerospace, and many more.The state’s competitive edge in aerospace brought them here; the expertise and drive of the people who work with and for them in Mississippi has kept them here.

Please click here to see the full article.

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