Category Archives: Columbus

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:

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

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BREAKING NEWS! Budweiser Clydesdales to Trot on Down to Columbus

Budweiser Clydesdales to Trot on Down to Columbus

Columbus – Courtesy of

The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales. Photo courtesy of the TCPalm/by Jamie Jackson

The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales will be coming to the Columbus area from April 17th to the 22nd. Sources indicate that they will most likely be touring in both Columbus and Starkville at various times during the week. Come on out and see these legends in person, and bring your camera!

Please note that both Super Bulldog Weekend in Starkville, and the Air Show at Columbus Air Force Base are also happening that weekend

Please click here for their official site

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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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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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Cajun Food Place Coming Soon to Columbus


Cajun Food Place Coming Soon to Columbus

Developer Mark Castleberry confirmed a Cajun seafood restaurant is coming to old Chili’s site on Highway 45 – Photo by Deanna Robinson


COLUMBUS – Courtesy of TheDispatch

Hungry for some real Cajun food? Here’s hoping it will succeed where Chili’s Tex-Mex failed – literally!

Local developer Mark Castleberry, recently purchased the old vacant Chili’s property and building on Hwy45. He says that Umi owner Billy Wang will open up the new venue sometime in the next few months; the plan is to open for business by June. A formal press conference will be held in the future.

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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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Columbus’ Own “Magic Max” Honored at Exchange Club

Columbus’ Own “Magic Max” Honored at Exchange Club

Ann Marie Langford, left, and Betty Clyde Jones, right, present “Magic Max” Cullum with the Book of Golden Deeds Award

Courtesy of The Dispatch – COLUMBUS

Columbus resident Max Cullum was recently honored for a lifetime of quiet generosity and commitment to helping others Thursday. The Exchange Club of Columbus awarded Cullum with the Book of Golden Deeds award at its weekly meeting; the award is given annually to a community member who has worked hard to improve both the community itself, and the lives of its residents, while remaining under the radar for most people. Cullum has helped out at volunteer sites all over town (as well as in other cities in the region) for decades, and he has even gone so far as to repair a church elevator for free, simply because it needed to be done.

Upon receiving the award – which was a complete surprise to him – Cullum said, “It’s something you never expect . . . And you know, I don’t see that I’ve done that much. God’s done it through me.”

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MUW Speech Pathology Grad Program Ranked Best in State by SLP Group

MUW Grad Program Ranked Best in State by SLP Group

Excerpt from a Press Release provided courtesy of


The website,, recognized The W and awarded their SLP program their highest honors for its 14:1 student-teacher ratio and affordable tuition for in-state students.

“What is especially rewarding about this speech pathology graduate programs ranking is that it puts heavy emphasis on student outcomes and recognizes the success of students,” said Joy Townsend, interim department chair and instructor of speech-language pathology. “The primary purpose of The W’s SLP graduate program is to prepare young professionals for the workplace and this ranking is an indicator and recognition of success.”

The ranking also noted that the university has been ranked as a top Southern public master’s university by U.S. News & World Report.

Please click here to read the full release.

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