Category Archives: West Point

Yokohama Going Strong as it Approaches its Third Year in West Point

Yokohama Going Strong as it Approaches its Third Year in West Point

WEST POINT, MS – Courtesy of the Mississippi Business Journal

The front entrance of the Yokohama Tire plant in West Point. (credit: The MS Business Journal)

About three years back, Yokohama Tire Corp. president Hikomitsu Noji had been looking at sites in nearly every state of the union to find the perfect location for their first “built from scratch” U.S. Facility. Once he got a good look at West Point, he decided that this was the place for his $300 million baby. The city and county, at the time, was still suffering the long-term aftereffects of the 2007 closing of the Bryan Foods plant, which eliminated over 1,200 jobs. Fast forward to today, and the plant employs 650 full-time employees – they had originally anticipated 500 – and they hope to add nearly triple that in the future.

“It’s been all positive and we couldn’t be more pleased with having Yokohama here,” said West Point mayor Robbie Robinson. “There’s always hiccups with any new venture and there have been some. When they chose to build the facility here, it was like we hit the lottery. . .West Point and Clay County are very happy.”

Joe Max Higgins, GTR LINK CEO and vocal  promoter of entrepreneurship in the GTR, took Noji and others on a helicopter ride that included the ruins of the old Bryan plant: “The Yokohama president told me ‘I want to see Sara Lee’ and we loaded up in the helicopter we’d rented for the day and took three or four passes over the demolished site”, said Higgins. “After the fourth pass, the man just looked at me and nodded without a word. There was an emotional connection. . . I knew at that moment that we’d landed Yokohama.”

Dan Funkhouser, Yokohama’s vice-president of commercial sales noted that the addition of the West Point plant is critical to the company’s continued growth in North America: “The commercial tire market is very strong and growing,” he said. “Both the replacement and OEM tire markets are expanding. This fits in perfectly with the Mississippi plant, which will increase our capabilities to service our OEM and replacement partners as they grow.”

Higgins proudly stated,“I think West Point and Clay County have turned the corner.”

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MS SoS Sees Educated Workforce as Vital for State’s Future

MS SoS Sees Educated Workforce as Vital for State’s Future

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann speaks to Rotary Club members at the Starkville Country Club Monday – Photo by Luisa Porter, Dispatch Staff

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann spoke to the Starkville Rotary Club on Monday, emphasizing the importance of education in order to help further improve the state’s future workforce. He noted that this need not always mean a four-year college degree, and that proper training via career tech centers can be just as valuable for students who are willing to undertake whatever training suits them:”Taking that silo, where we have a university, junior college, a high school, all of that needs to be towards one goal and that one goal would be to have an educated workforce,” he said. “And about 60-70 percent of that educated workforce will not have a college degree. That’s critical — I want you to have that college degree if that’s what you want to do. If you want to work with your hands and be a plumber, you can come to Jackson in the winter and make a million dollars.”

Hosemann said that it is vital to expose students to as many different career path options as early as is practical in their education, to get youths interested in learning about career paths that suit their own interests and talents. He also noted that, while our Unemployment level is low at the moment, that number only includes adults who are actively looking for work, and have been doing so only up to a certain amount of time: “The most significant number that we have in Mississippi is not what our percentage unemployment is,” he said. “It is workforce participation. We are at 55 percent between 18 and 64 (years old). That number is one of the lowest in the country. . .If there were 65 percent working, we could build bridges everywhere,” he went on to say. “We could have schools everywhere. We’d have plenty of money to go around. We’d have another 100,000 or 200,000 people working in Mississippi.”

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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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Graham Roofing Gets New Owner; Books & Boards Closing Its Doors

Graham Roofing Gets New Owner; Books & Boards Closing Its Doors

Golden Triangle – Courtesy of The Dispatch

 

Christee Holbrook – courtesy photo

West Point’s own Graham Roofing has recently seen Christee Holbrook promoted to president and CEO, following her buyout of the company last month.  The business has been serving the needs of locals for fifty years, and one of its founding members has finally retired after all those years. Holbrook originally  joined the company in 1997 as an accountant.

Two others were also chosen as managing partners in order to help run the business: “I chose Christee Holbrook, Suzanne Richardson, and Johnathan Poland to lead Graham Roofing into the future because I knew GRI would have a leadership team with vision, integrity and professionalism,” Hooks said in a company press release. “There was no doubt they would use our company history as their foundation, along with their fresh vision for direction and their faith to take GRI into its next generation of success.”

The primary office will remain at 680 Tibbee Road in West Point, with Tupelo’s location as a satellite branch.

Books & Boards/Three Sisters Pie Company (Photo By Jeremy Hammack)

The people of Columbus are getting ready to say goodby to a much newer shop that has been bringing joy to the community since it first opened fewer than two years ago: Books & Boards, a combination of a small, cozy bookstore and a board gaming cafe. They have shared the space on Main Street with the Three Sisters Pie Company almost since the beginning, and the pie shop will remain open at that location. They will continue to host several of Books and Boards’ most popular events, including poetry open mic nights, bingo nights and trivia nights.

“We are so incredibly proud of the community that Books and Boards has cultivated,” Owner Ashley Gressett said. “I’m sad to see it go, but I’m excited to know that the community we built will still have a place at Three Sisters Pie.” Books and Boards will host a farewell party on April 28. Gressett said the event will be open to the public and include pizza, games and “lots of laughter to go around.”

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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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GT Regional Airport Doing Record Business

GT Regional Airport Doing Record Business

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Warren Housley, left, visits with Golden Triangle Regional Airport Director Mike Hainsey. The airport director spoke to Starkville Rotary Club on Monday. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

Golden Triangle Regional Airport Director Mike Hainsey recently spoke to the Starkville Rotary Club, where he told them that the airport has been doing record business: “Last month, we put more people on airplanes than any other October in the history of the airport,” he said. “That was a big number — we were running 90 percent full. … This month, we’re doing the same, which means we’ll have another record month. We’ll have a record November, if it continues.”

The airport, has done about $3.5 million in improvements in the last 18 months. Hainsey said that the improvements include work on the commercial and general aviation ramps, as well as a taxiway renovation that should finish this week. GTRA is also replacing old ramp and terminal lightning with more modern, energy efficient lights.

A 4,000 sq ft expansion is also in the works:”Our plan for the future is, as the airport grows, we’ll have bigger airplanes and we’ll need jet bridges so we’ll move everything upstairs,” he said.

He did note, however, that a shortage of pilots for the major airlines is likely to cause business to suffer in the future – especially for GTR and other smaller, regional airports: “This is, for us in the business, the single biggest threat to air service at my airport,” Hainsey said.

 

While airports are able to offer incentives to get more flights coming through them, the issue isn’t that, so much as the fact that the pilot population is dwindling as more and more pilots reach the mandatory pilot retirement age of 65. “They told me they have no new markets out of Dallas this next year,” he said. “They don’t know if they can man their existing markets. They can’t grow if they can’t — until it’s sure what’s going to happen with the pilot shortage. It’s getting that bad.”

“The bottom line on all this–for us to get air service, we have to take it from someone else,” he said. ” … For us to get air service, we’ll have to convince the airlines they’ll make more money at GTR than they will at other places. So we’re working that. We have a good case.”

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Atmos Energy Moving, Consolidating GTR Offices Into One New Location

Atmos Energy Moving, Consolidating GTR Offices Into One New Location

GTR Area – Courtesy of the Dispatch –

Atmos Energy, its Columbus office shown here, is working on consolidating its three Golden Triangle offices into one central location by spring.
Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

Michelle Whittle has stated that Atmos plans to consolidate three of their three existing “District 45” offices (The GTR plus Monroe & Tupelo Counties) into one new office, once funding has been finalized: “Our plans are for us to begin construction on our new office hopefully by spring,” Whittle said. “We most likely will sell the other three facilities.” The proposed new location is planned to be located next to Wade Construction on South Frontage Road, a few miles west of Columbus, and is expected to hold about fifty employees. The new location will serve Clay, Lowndes, and Oktibbeha counties.

The location is also a bit more centralized, and Whittle remarked that advancements in technology have made it easier to handle a spread-out service team more easily from a single dispatching area. The new office is intended to make much better use of space (for example, it will not serve as a showroom for selling heaters and similar products like the old office(s).

“All of us will move,” she went on to say. “Every one of us — we have about 28 employees. We all will begin reporting to the new office. We’re all excited about it. It’s going to be really nice.”

For the full article, please click here.

 

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Local Florist Picked to Help Brighten Up the White House

Local Florist Picked to Help Brighten Up the White House

Courtesy of The Dispatch – West Point, MS

 

West Point florist Scott Reed, owner of Petal Pushers recently received official word from The White House last week that he was accepted into the 2017 holiday volunteer program.

West Point florist Scott Reed has been selected to decorate the White House for Christmas. He owns Petal Pushers floral shop. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff

“I’ve always worked with design,” Reed said. “And I just remember hearing about this program years ago and thinking ‘how neat would it be to be a part of something like this?'”

He will serve as part of a volunteer team that will go up to the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue for a four-day decorating spree, along with others who have successfully petitioned to do so. “It was really exciting to see something that I’ve wanted to do for so long come to be,” Reed said. “But I was automatically a little bit nervous because, well, I’m decorating the White House.” He has applied for the program multiple times since 2000, and was elated that he has finally be selected to help.

Reed went to MSU, where he earned a degree in ornamental horticulture. This eventually led to his opening Petal Pushers, a shop that specializes in making floral arrangements, as well as selling gifts, collectibles, and antiques to go along with them. His shop is located at 651 Commerce St.

“I’m just so honored to be chosen to do this, especially after trying unsuccessfully a few times,” Reed said. “I know my staff is just as excited as I am too.”

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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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