Category Archives: Business

State Unemployment Rate at 13-Year Low

State Unemployment Rate at 13-Year Low

The Dispatch

The MS Dept. of Employment Security reports that the Mississippi’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate has hit a 13-year low over the past two months. According to their data, the seasonally-adjusted rate has come in at 5.5% (down from 6.1% in January); the last time it was that low was in December 2003.

The nation’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for January was 4.8 percent.

Lowndes County’s unemployment rate increased from 5.9 percent in December to 6.5 percent in January. Oktibbeha County’s jobless rate went up from 5.6 percent in December to 5.9 percent in January and the unemployment rate went from 7.7 percent to 8.1 percent in Clay County.

Statewide, 500 new jobs were created in January, MDES data shows.

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LC Supervisors Have Approved Funding for Job Development at Steel Dynamics’ Industrial Park

LC Supervisors Have Approved Funding for Job Development at Steel Dynamics’ Industrial Park

LOWNDES COUNTY – Courtesy of The Dispatch

GTR LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins reports that Lowndes County supervisors unanimously approved more than $1.7 million in grants and loans for a company to build a $7.5 million new facility on the Steel Dynamics, Inc. campus at the industrial park west of Columbus. Some further funding will be required, but this gets the ball rolling in a major way, and opens the door to new facilities (including a railroad spur) which should provide at least fifty local jobs.

Joe Max Higgins, left, and Harry Sanders

“They need to ship out product by rail,” Higgins said. “And there needs to be an improved road to where they can do truck deliveries out as well . . .  The steel’s made on campus, so it’s just taken up there and processed,” he added. “But then it will go out by train to those customers who want train delivery or by truck for those of them who want trucking.”

“[The new company will] basically take steel that SDI makes and further process it into what I understand is a consumer product,” Higgins said. “It’s about a $7.5 million investment that’ll create 50 jobs, and I think that’s (the job count) a conservative number — I think it could go higher . . . It’s not a Steel Dynamics project, but it’s a result of Steel Dynamics being here,” Higgins went on to say. “Quite frankly, it’s a result of the new paint line that they’re fixing to put online. This is probably the first new business that you can directly attribute to the new paint line.”

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Academy Sports Coming to Starkville, Bringing Plenty of Jobs

Academy Sports Coming to Starkville, Bringing Plenty of Jobs

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of Starkville Daily News

Academy Sports+Outdoors on Highway 12 is nearing completion; the store is set to open in late spring, bringing around 100 new jobs to Starkville. The Starkville location will be Academy’s eighth location in Mississippi. The Starkville location will carry apparel for local sports teams. Academy Sports also sells products for outdoor sports and recreational activities.

Academy Sports+Outdoors on Highway 12 will open in late spring (photo by Sarah Raines, SDN)

“We’re always looking to expand, and we’re excited to offer the Starkville community a convenient new shopping destination,” Academy Sports Communication Specialist Karly Makovy said. “Because our store caters to active-minded customers, the Starkville area was a great fit … We are excited to be in Starkville and serve those Bulldog customers . . . The store is going to bring approximately 100 jobs to the area,” Makovy went on to say. “Information on job positions will be posted online. There is information on salary and part-time positions for those people.”

Applications are being accepted on the Academy career website.

“We’re really excited to enter the community,” Makovy said. “We could serve a lot of things in Starkville — a lot of outdoor activities that the community can be involved with. We’ve been eyeing the community for a while.”

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Navistar Lands New Contract, Will Keep Them Working Through 2019

Navistar Lands New Contract, Will Keep Them Working Through 2019


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Representative Trent Kelly (R-Miss.) today announced a $440 million U.S. Army contract for work to be done at the Navistar facility in West Point.

Under the contract, Navistar workers in West Point would reset and upgrade 1,085 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) MaxxPro Excess Defense Article vehicles and associated accessories for the United Arab Emirates.  The contract has been approved through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales process.

“This contract will support an important Middle East ally, which serves our U.S. security interests,” said Cochran, chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.  “I’m pleased that the excellent workmanship of Mississippians in the Golden Triangle will be an essential part of this effort.”

“Our state’s skilled workforce has become a trusted partner in advancing our nation’s defense, and this contract further proves that,” said Wicker.  “This is great news for West Point and the entire state of Mississippi.  I am pleased the U.S. Army has recognized the high quality of the work being done in our state.”

“At a time when there are rising threats around the world, our allies have never been more important,” Kelly said.  “It is great to see our hardworking First District Mississippians support our friends in the United Arab Emirates through this contract.”

The contract is expected to be completed in March 2019.

See video here.

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City of Columbus Waives Debt for Local Business

City of Columbus Waives Debt for Local Business


The city of Columbus has agreed to forgive about $80,000 clothing manufacturer American Power Source, located at 826 17th Ave. S., owes on its property note. In exchange, the company must pay property taxes and note payments that are delinquent and keep its employment at a minimum of 30 jobs. Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff

City Attorney Jeff Turnage reported that the city and Golden Triangle Development LINK worked out an agreement which would see military clothing manager American Power Source Inc. repay roughly $66,000 worth of back taxes and note payments to the city, the county, and the city school district, in exchange for the deed to the manufacturer’s property and other considerations. The agreement also requires that the company continue to do business at their current location, as well as maintaining current employment for local workers.

“In the past three to four years,” the agreement states, “APSI has unfortunately experienced a substantial reduction in orders and sales volume for U.S. military uniforms that it produces due, at least in part, to a shift in the production of such uniforms to U.S. prisons.”   Because of slumping production, American Power Source has missed several note payments and ad valorem tax payments for 2014-16. The resolution notes a “substantial likelihood” the company would fail to make the remaining note payments.

Ward 4 Councilman Marty Turner, who cast the one opposing vote, did so because he said he didn’t feel it was in the best interest of his ward or the city as a whole. He encouraged people to research the company and agreement, and said he felt more people should have been involved before the final decision.  “It could have been much better if more people were involved for the disclosure of what was going on,” Turner said. “It could have been much better. I don’t just necessarily disagree with everything, but if we would have had a better deal, then I would have went along with it . . .It seems like the government is leaving the ordinary people out of the discussion, and their representatives are just voting just to vote,” he added.

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New Businesses Coming to Columbus, New Hope, Starkville

New Businesses Coming to Columbus, New Hope, Starkville

Courtesy of THE DISPATCH

Caleb Sherman of The Dispatch

New businesses are in the process of opening up shop for the convenience of customers!

In Columbus, Bargain Hunt is moving into the old Southern Family location next to K-Mart on 45

In New Hope, Starkville’s Smartphone Doctor will be adding a new location in the Lehmberg Crossing shopping center on Alabama St.

Starkville’s Main Street will be getting “Pop Porium,” a gourmet popcorn, sno-ball, and soda fountain featuring homemade syrup flavors. They hope to have a hundred varieties of popcorn available for sale by the end of the year, based on customer feedback; they plan to open soon with fifty.

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West Point’s Navistar Plant Going Strong

West Point’s Navistar Plant Going Strong


WEST POINT, Miss. (AP) – Navistar International Corp. has been awarded a $35 million contract to deliver 40 armored vehicles to Pakistan from its Mississippi plant.

The U.S. Army announced the contract Thursday, saying Navistar, based in Lisle, Illinois, had made the only bid for the mine resistant ambush protected MaxxPro Dash DXM trucks.

Work is supposed to be done at Navistar’s plant in West Point, as well as in Pakistan, and is estimated to be finished by Oct. 31, 2018.

Although the West Point plant had laid off all its workers in 2013, it has since won a series of contracts to build or refurbish vehicles for the U.S. Army and foreign militaries, hiring several hundred workers.

Courtesy of WCBI

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WIN Center Moves to New Location, Still Helping Workers Find Jobs PDQ

MAYHEW – Courtesy of the Commercial Dispatch

The WIN center, which helps to match prospective employees up with jobs of all sorts, is up and running during its move to a new facility at EMCC’s Center for Manufacturing Technology Excellence in Mayhew.

Calvin Dailey, an interviewer with the WIN center, said the state-funded job placement center regularly draws 200 to 400 people, mostly job-seekers, per week from Clay, Lowndes, Oktibbeha, Noxubee and neighboring counties, depending on the season.  “If you just come in here saying, ‘I need a job today,’ nine times out of 10, we’re able to get you a job today because you just want employment,” he said. “But if you come in and you’ve got a resume and you want something specific, we’re going to work with you until we help you get that job.” He went on to remark that “Moving here turns us into a one-stop shop; moving here was a great benefit to our people, really.”

Once a client comes seeking a job, WIN creates a profile — that can be used at any WIN center in the state — and helps track potential matching openings.  The WIN center also offers a variety of training programs, designed to help workers build better resumes, dress for success, and more. They also provide assistance to workers displaced due to jobs being outsourced overseas, as well as to veterans in search of work.

There is no cost to use the WIN center’s services, and the referral service does not conduct background checks nor drug testing; workplaces that require these are expected to handle it themselves.

The city of Starkville recently submitted 10 job orders to the WIN center, and City Human Resources Director Navarrete Ashford said that seems to be working out well — with interviews for eight of those openings scheduled this week.

The WIN center, as always, works hard to help people find work, and to help employers find workers – and THAT’S Good for Business!

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Internet Tax Bill in Jeopardy

Internet Tax Bill in Jeopardy


This is a follow-up to a couple of stories we published recently:

PRESS RELEASE — Associated Press by way of The Dispatch

JACKSON — The Mississippi House could be on track to reverse itself and eventually kill a proposed internet sales tax.

Jeff Smith (courtesy photo)

House Bill 480 passed the House on Wednesday, despite opposition from some Republicans who said they oppose any new taxes. The bill would enforce sales tax collections for items sold over the internet, and would earmark the money for road and bridge work.

The bill was put on hold for the possibility of more debate. On Thursday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, tried to remove that hold and send the bill to the Senate — but opponents blocked him.

The House has until Feb. 13 to reconsider the bill. If nothing happens by then, the bill will die.

The bill is an effort to formalize the collection of sales taxes from and others that sell goods to Mississippians from outside the state. It would set aside the internet sales tax collections to pay for road and bridge work, with 70 percent going to the state, 15 percent to counties and 15 percent to cities.

College Board researchers estimated in January that Mississippi was losing between $106 million and $123 million in sales tax revenue. Transportation officials say they need at least $500 million to prevent roads from deteriorating. However, many lawmakers refuse to raise fuel taxes, leaving road advocates searching for other revenue.

Original article here:

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IHL Commish Emphasizes the Need for MS’s Future Success: More College Grads

IHL Commish Emphasizes the Need for MS’s Future Success: More College Grads

COLUMBUS – Info courtesy of the Dispatch

Glenn Boyce – IHL commissioner (courtesy photo)

Glenn Boyce, commissioner of Mississippi’s Institutions of Higher Learning, recently spoke to the Rotary Club about what he feels is needed for the state to continue its success in business going forward: Namely, getting people into college – and more importantly – seeing them through to graduation.

“Mississippi’s future economic growth is post-secondary training,” Boyce said. “The simple truth is that if we don’t get Mississippians through college with a degree, our economic growth is going to stagnate. By 2020 — that’s just three years from now — studies show that 65 percent of all new jobs will require a post-second degree or specialized training.”
Educating residents is one thing, though. Keeping them is another important issue, Boyce said.

He pointed out that students in Mississippi have been making great strides in recent years in terms of both education in general and the college graduation rate, but that we still lag far behind the national average. He also spoke about the need to provide viable work opportunities for new graduates in-state: “You hear a lot about what’s called ‘The Brain Drain’ in Mississippi,” he said. “It’s disturbing. We’re losing as many as 50 percent of our graduates to other states. It’s not because they don’t love Mississippi. It’s because there aren’t opportunities for them here. If they have the opportunities, they will stay. In fact, we know that Mississippians come back to the state at a high rate when opportunities arise.”

Fortunately, things are looking up – step by step. “Thanks to the (IHL) board, we’re starting two bio-medical engineering programs at Mississippi State and Ole Miss,” Boyce said. “We want to create a wave of engineers specially trained for the bio-medical industry and then go after those companies. But we have to create the labor pool of qualified workers before we can go after those companies. We can’t bring in the companies and then train workers.”

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