Thursday, January 14 2016
To achieve sustainable success in today’s fast-paced economy, companies require a competitive advantage, and global leaders across a wide range of industry sectors are finding that advantage in Mississippi.
All across the state, economic development professionals at the state, regional and local levels work together to provide companies with a business environment fostering innovation, growth and longevity. This collaboration includes using available resources to meet the unique needs of today’s businesses, helping ensure their long-term success.
Mississippi’s competitive energy rates and low operating costs combined with the state’s seamless, one-stop permitting process amplifies the strong business climate that companies expect from a Mississippi location. Additionally, Mississippi knows a well-trained, available workforce is a top priority for companies seeking a new location or businesses looking to grow existing operations. The state partners with its top-ranked network of 15 community colleges to provide customized workforce training programs to ensure Mississippi’s workers not only meet – but exceed – companies’ expectations across the board, from aerospace to agribusiness, advanced manufacturing to automotive.
In addition the state’s community colleges, Mississippi’s four research universities play a major role in developing the workforce of the future, particularly for the advanced manufacturing and automotive sectors. Mississippi State University’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems focuses on the needs of the state’s advanced manufacturers. CAVS delivers engineering and technical assistance to the automotive industry, other OEMs and small-to-medium-sized manufacturers, in addition to its customized training courses.
In partnership with Nissan’s Canton, Miss., automotive assembly plant, where more than 6,000 team members produce eight Nissan models, CAVS’ Canton Extension offers skills training to workers at the plant. For more than a decade, Nissan Canton has served as the cornerstone of Mississippi’s automotive industry, and the plant’s continued expansions and job growth are strong testaments to Mississippi’s workforce capabilities in automotive manufacturing. In fact, Nissan Canton just celebrated production of its three-millionth vehicle, and the momentum shows no signs of slowing.
In 2014, the world’s eyes were on Nissan Canton when the plant began production of Nissan’s crossover SUV, the Murano, marking the first time the vehicle had been produced in the U.S. and positioning the plant as the global source of Murano production. In November 2015, Nissan Canton and its employees were once again put on the global stage as Nissan officials launched the much-anticipated, newly redesigned 2016 Nissan Titan XD pickup truck. The Nissan Titan has been in production since 2004 and is assembled exclusively at the Canton facility. The launch of the 2016 Titan marked a major body style redesign to the full-size pickup.
“Mississippi has been an outstanding partner for Nissan from the earliest planning days of our Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant – a relationship that has deepened as the facility has grown into a true global manufacturing center. We’re proud to have the latest generation of Nissan Titan, the all-new 2016 Nissan Titan XD, wear the ‘Made in Mississippi’ label, just like the original,” said José Muñoz, executive vice president, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd and chairman, Nissan North America, Inc., of the Titan’s launch.
At the University of Mississippi, the Center for Manufacturing Excellence was announced in 2008 in partnership with Toyota Motor Corp. in anticipation of the new Toyota manufacturing plant in Blue Springs, Miss., which began production of the best-selling Corolla in 2011. The CME aims to keep jobs in Mississippi by educating the nation’s future manufacturing professionals. Since its opening, the CME has been unique in the U.S. in its undergraduate curriculum, offering students degrees in engineering with an emphasis on manufacturing. The CME also offers cross-disciplinary studies focusing on other vital skills needed in the manufacturing sector, such as business, management and accounting.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi also has a strong partnership with Itawamba Community College, which focuses on the plant’s workforce training needs. The community college has successfully prepared and trained TMMMS’s 2,000 team members to manufacture the Corolla. In Feb. 2015, TMMMS was also on the global stage as it reached a production milestone faster than any other Toyota plant in the U.S. – production of its 500,000th vehicle, proof of the hard work and productivity the plant’s employees have exhibited since day one in order to meet increased consumer demand.
Another automotive industry leader finding its competitive edge in Mississippi is Yokohama Tire Corporation. Yokohama officially celebrated the grand opening of the first phase of its commercial truck tire manufacturing plant, Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Mississippi, LLC, in West Point, Miss., in Oct. 2015. Yokohama announced in April 2013 it would locate the plant in West Point, the company’s first in the U.S. to be built from the ground up.
The first phase of the project represents a $300 million corporate investment and the creation of 500 jobs. Potential future expansions are expected to increase the company’s investment and employment levels up to four times in scale in accordance with future growth.
To prepare its employees to produce the quality tires for which Yokohama is known, the company partnered with East Mississippi Community College. EMCC’s 96-hour Basic Manufacturing Skills Course was a critical aspect of Yokohama’s decision to locate in West Point. The program covers computer literacy, blueprint reading, precision measurement, high-performance manufacturing, interviewing skills, CPR and the OSHA General Industry Safety Program.
Prior to taking the Basic Manufacturing Skills Course, potential Yokohama employees must first complete the WorkKeys Career Readiness Certification at a minimum Silver level. Then, upon successful completion of the Basic Manufacturing Skills Course, EMCC refers potential candidates to Yokohama for interviews. In addition to Yokohama Manufacturing Mississippi, many other large manufacturers in the region use the course as part of their screening and training process.
In Senatobia, Miss., Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership program partners with businesses across the North Mississippi region to train and equip them are highly-skilled electronics engineering technicians. Northwest partners with automotive and advanced manufacturing industry leaders such as Toyoda Gosei, FEUER Powertrain, Parker Hannifin, Schulz Xtruded Products and more.
In addition to supplying industry leaders with a ready workforce to meet companies’ needs today and well into the future, Mississippi’s award-winning infrastructure and proven logistics capabilities also play a role in the success of companies in the state. Another vital component of that success is the state’s well-integrated, robust transportation network, which guarantees companies can effectively and efficiently move their products to market. Mississippi is centrally located in the fastest growing region of the U.S. and offers ease-of-access to global a distribution hub. The state’s interstate and highway network was ranked eighth best in the country in 2014, and its six interstate highways and 14 federal highways provide companies with single-day roadway access to more than 55 percent of U.S. businesses and major population centers. Additionally, Mississippi’s 15 ports, including two bustling deep water ports on the Gulf of Mexico, also offer quick, convenient access to national and international markets.
Mississippi invites you to come discover your competitive advantage – just as these companies and so many more have already. To join the growing list of global industry leaders benefiting from a Mississippi location, visit www.choosemississippi.org, or call the Locate Mississippi team at 1-800-360-3323.