Manufactured in Mississippi || Issue 1 || Spring-Summer 2016

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L eading the Charge for Mississippi Manufacturers Ever y Day

Member ship Matter s A Voice in the State Legislature and U.S. Congress Publications and Information Unlimited Resources and Consultation

Downtime is the enemy. For manufacturers, connectivity equals productivity. From the control room to the floor to the engineer offsite, the sooner you can activate your problem solvers, the sooner the wrench is out of the machine. We offer a powerful arsenal of communication technologies that attack downtime by boosting the agility and interconnectivity of your workforce.

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Contact Shannon Hood

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Marketing & Membership Manager 601-292-1127 601-292-

business solutions | 855.277.4732 | C SpireTM and C Spire Business SolutionsTM are trademarks owned by Cellular South, Inc. Cellular South, Inc. and its affiliates provide products and services under the C SpireTM and C Spire Business SolutionsTM brand. ©2016 C Spire. All rights reserved

Jay C. Moon, President & CEO Mississippi Manufacturers Association


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WIRELESS Keep your operation connected, even off the factory floor.



Manufactured in Mississippi 2

Letter from the Editor Nearly one-third of all jobs in the state of Mississippi are associated with manufacturing. Manufacturing in Mississippi is core to the business community and to the culture, and is supported legislatively, by state agencies, by the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, through educational initiatives, and through targeted manufacturing programs like the one offered by the University of Mississippi at the Haley Barbor Center for Manufacturing Excellence. Manufactured in Mississippi magazine is the first privately held Mississippi publication of its kind. Each edition focuses on important industry issues and topics, including state and national legislation, special interest pieces, and business profiles. Every issue is directly distributed to key elected officials, legislators, business leaders, industry leaders, and members of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association. If you have an important topic that you would like to see on the pages, or are interested in how you can have your company represented in the magazine, please contact our editorial or advertising staff. We trust you will find Manufactured in Mississippi an important read. – Bryan Carter Editor-in-Chief


A Recipe for Success Chef Danny Lin Launches Asian Bistro Sauces in Mississippi


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Center for Manufacturing Excellence Mississippi’s Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence offers the only undergraduate program of its kind

Two-Way Texting: Made in Mississippi Apple Pays for the Use of a Mississippi Invention




Publisher P2 Publishers Editor-in-Chief Bryan Carter Contributing Editors Matthew Jackson, Hannah Saulters Visual Design Justin Maxwell, Chance Shelton Photography Chance Shelton, Bryan Carter Advertising Director Fran Nause Riddell Staff Greg Mitchell, Tabitha Yarber Manufactured in Mississippi is published by P2 Publishers. Reproduction of Manufactured in Mississippi magazine, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without written permission. We do not accept responsibility for any unsolicited materials and may not return them. All information in this magazine is taken from sources considered authoritative, but P2 Publishers cannot guarantee their accuracy. Inclusion of editorials, images, advertisements, or other materials in this magazine does not constitute an endorsement for products or services by the publisher. Expert editorials are provided by outside authors, and represent the expert opinions of those authors.

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Mississippi Automotive Manufacturing Association MAMA: The Evolution of Automotive Manufacturing in Mississippi

Setting Records and Continually Improving Mississippi: MDA 2016 How Economic Development Breathes Life into the Manufacturing State

Mississippi is the Natural-Gas Distribution Nexus in the South. Atmos Energy is at the Hub. Mississippi’s Designation Comes With Benefits

Mississippi’s Governor Phil Bryant Our State of Manufacturing

Marketing 101 What is Your Customer’s Online Experience?


Please send all inquiries to: MAnufactured in mississippi, 655 Lake Harbour Drive, Ste 100, Ridgeland, MS 39157 or call: 601-707-8350 with any questions or commments. VISIT US ONLINE AT OR EMAIL US AT or

© 2016 P2 Publishers.


01 2016



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The adage goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” One local manufacturer recently began his metaphorical thousand-mile journey with a single product. Chef Danny Lin’s story of establishing a specialty food company is one that is a work in progress, but one that has already yielded success for this budding manufacturer in Mississippi. Along with his expertise in the culinary arts, prioritizing good business decision-making has become a theme that has helped fuel his success.


By BRYAN CARTER / Featured writer


Closures, Glass Containers, and Semi-rigid Containers. Certification is required by the State Health Department in order to manufacture foods canned in the state of Mississippi. Chef Lin also connected with state organizations, such as Innovate Mississippi, that have assisted in the process of attracting investors to fund growth as he accepts larger orders going forward. Attention to planning and strategic partnerships have proven critical to Lin’s success to date. He has been able to maintain a consistent track record of success with his retailers and has built trust with his distributors and suppliers. Says Lin, “We have followed a very intentional, step-by-step approach to building the business. The credit we have gained from our approach has proven invaluable in introducing additional products in our line to our retailer partners.”

Positioned for Growth

Chef Lin now distributes three different sauces: Ginger Zing House Dressing, Spicy Pink Sauce, and Sweet & Spicy Asian BBQ. He also has several other recipes that are being prepared for retail. He is currently distributing to over 30 Kroger locations in Central Mississippi, with sales of 40-60 bottles per month per store per product, plus reserve inventory. Some stores are selling as many as 100 bottles per month of the Ginger Zing House Dressing. Chef Lin’s market is still growing. He has received an invitation to supply the entire Delta region for Kroger and has plans to move distribution to one of Kroger’s central warehouses. Whole Foods has also expressed interest in carrying Chef Lin’s products. The ability to fulfill much larger orders positions Lin to meet growing demand and supply expanding markets. To meet that demand, Lin has secured a contract packer (co-pack) that will produce, bottle, package, and distribute thousands of bottles per order. “Response to our sauces has been very positive across the board. We are excited about the success our products are experiencing and are continually planning for growth in partnership with our retail grocers with additional locations and added products,” says Lin.

Manufacturers in Mississippi

//// // / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / ////////////////////////// / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / Chef Danny Lin grew up in a family of chefs. His father is a chef. His mother is a chef. With the support of their family, Danny and his sister both became chefs and were able to open their own Chinese restaurants at an early age. Danny owns Ding How Asian Bistro in Ridgeland, Mississippi, arguably one of the best made-to-order Asian cuisine restaurants in the state. Says Lin, “My parents helped me purchase my first restaurant. I earned back the investment in just 10 months.” Today, everyone in the family still owns and operates Asian fusion restaurants.

First Step

Lin’s entrepreneurial spirit has always been a driving force in his life. In 2014 he decided to explore the idea of making one of his popular sauces, Ginger Zing House Dressing, available for retail sale. The Ginger Zing House Dressing turned out to be a first step into the world of manufacturing in Mississippi for this restaurant entrepreneur.

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Establishing a Market Study and Rollout Model

Lin leveraged his restaurant and customer base to test and develop his first recipe for the new Ginger Zing House Dressing. He was able to perfect the dressing and also gauge customer interest based on initial and repeat retail sales in the restaurant. Once he was confident the product was ready for retail sale at a grocery store, he approached the local Kroger Company grocery to assess their interest in carrying the product. In March 2015, the Kroger Company agreed to try the product at that branch.

Public Response

The Kroger Company has well-established metrics to determine if a product is successful and worthy of valuable shelf space. Within weeks, both Lin and Kroger knew they had something exceptional. In 30 days the dressing was selling enough units to be considered a success by the retail grocer; in 60 days they were doubling that number. It was clear that Chef Lin’s Ginger Zing House Dressing was not only worthy, but was a top seller. Today’s sales numbers equal or exceed the #1 selling soy sauce brand on the Kroger shelves (soy sauce is a good sales comparison based on its daily use by consumers).

A Systematic Approach

While early in the concept stage, Lin consulted Mississippi branding and marketing experts Think Webstore to assist in brand creation, product design, and business development, taking into account not only the product he had ready, but possible future products as well. Says Lin, “The product design is responsible for the customer’s first purchase. The quality of the product determines repeat buys. Both had to work.” Lin was told by one grocer that his label design truly stood out as one of the best in his category; repeat sales demonstrate his product’s quality. Next, Lin began acquiring necessary manufacturing credentials with the state. He spent weeks preparing and testing for certification through the Better Process Control School in multiple areas of food manufacturing, including Microbiology, Acidified Foods, Thermal Processing, Sanitation, Container Handling, Records, Process Room Instrumentation, Still Steam Retorts, Overpressure, Hydrostatic Retorts, Continuous Rotary, Batch Agitating, Aseptic Processing, Metal

Ginger Zing was Chef Lin’s first product introduced for wholesale and retail sale in 2015.

Chef Danny Lin is an entrepreneur at heart. Chef Lin currently owns and operates Ding How Asian Bistro in Ridgeland, Mississippi, owns an international import business, and owns the new “Chef Danny Lin” manufacturing company.


A Chef Tradition

Mississippi’s manufacturing success is often symbolized by some of the larger industry players, such as Ingalls, Nissan, Toyota, and Sanderson Farms, to name a few. While these are excellent examples of Mississippi manufacturing, it is important to remember that every manufacturer had a small start somewhere; some were started from a garage, a home, or even a family-owned restaurant. Chef Danny Lin exemplifies the true spirit of Mississippi manufacturing — vision, courage, determination, and a smart approach to growing a business from the ground up.





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Manufactured in Mississippi 10

Situated in the heart of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) campus, the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence (CME) provides a world-class education for some of the brightest candidates across the country entering the manufacturing industry, producing some of the best graduating candidates for Mississippi’s world-class manufacturing community. Says Associate Director Ryan Miller, “One of the successes of our program comes from the collision of the academic, the theoretical, and the practical. We are eliminating the disconnects in manufacturing between leadership, engineers, factory floor workers, marketing, finance, and other manufacturing roles by using team-based projects to push students in realworld, critical, group tasks, and in practical production.”


By BRYAN CARTER / Featured writer


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Less than 10 years old, the program was conceived by former Governor Haley Barbour, former Chancellor Robert Khayat, and Toyota, with participation by aligned state organizations including the Mississippi Manufacturers Association. Although Toyota was a major contributor, the goal of the center for all parties was to represent the manufacturing industry as a whole, not just from an automobile manufacturing perspective. The program was designed to complement engineering and business degrees, allowing business and accountancy students to earn a minor and engineering students to acquire a degree emphasis after completing the coursework to accompany their major. The CME program launched in 2010 with an inaugural class of 27 students. Today the CME reviews approximately

200 applications for 50 openings in the program each year, and in any given semester there are approximately 185200 active students in the CME student body. The fully developed program now at-

who participate in a program called “Make It Mississippi.� Through active engagement, recruiters are able to observe student character traits like teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills, essential traits the recruiters are seeking in future candidates for the CME. Candidates are tracked through their academic career and recruited out of high school. The Center for Manufacturing Excellence program boasts a retention rate of over 85%, which is rare among academic programs that are normally susceptible to the flexible commitments and changing focuses of an undergraduate population. World-Class Education in Context

tracts students and instructors locally, nationally, and internationally. Local recruiting efforts begin early, with elementary and middle school students

The center is designed to provide real-life manufacturing experiences for students from three different schools on the campus — Engineering (Mechanical, Chemical, and General Engineering), Business (Marketing, Finance, and Management), and Accountancy (a top 10


A Right Start to Success


Beyond Academic

The Advisers

Along with deans from the partnering schools of engineering, business, and ac-

countancy, the CME draws guidance and resources from manufacturers across the state. Advisers on the current board include representatives from Toyota, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Mississippi Development Authority, Hol-Mac, and the Community Development Foundation in Tupelo, Mississippi.

“This program and these graduates help establish Mississippi as a top tier manufacturing destination for both students and manufacturing companies.” The Vetting Process

In order to be accepted to the CME program, students have to pass a comprehensive review process that evaluates personality, academics, testing, critical thinking, and motives for joining the program. The program currently consists of approximately 60% Mississippi residents, with the remaining 40% coming from

outside the state; of the students in the program, approximately 60% are engineering students and 40% are business or accountancy students. The Curriculum

The complete curriculum requires approximately 20 hours of coursework in addition to the coursework required by each student’s degree program, with classes ranging from one to three hours each. This equates to one or two CME courses per semester. In addition to academic lessons, the CME program focuses on many real-world, practical skills in its coursework, including team building, strategic planning, business law, critical thinking, and problem solving. Says Miller, “The curriculum is designed for integration and teamwork. The language of manufacturing is our modern-day Rosetta Stone that allows our students to build expertise across targeted disciplines. In our program, engineers are being taught the language of business and accountancy. Business and accountancy majors are being taught the language of engineering. ” Completing the CME program earns business and accountancy students a Minor in Manufacturing Engineering, and earns engineering students an emphasis in Manufacturing Engineering.

Individual Internships Internships are also a part of the CME program experience. Students secure internships in-state and outof-state with a wide variety of manufacturers, in fields ranging from textiles to technology. The Capstone Project Seniors engage in a two-semester final project before completing the CME program. The senior project, named the Capstone Project, is designed to bring together all lessons of the program into a real-world manufacturing project. Students from all three disciplines — Engineering, Business, and Accountancy — are brought together as a team to go through a full range of steps to experience the complete manufacturing process from concept to production.


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program in the nation). The program brings the three student tracks together in their curricular studies and, ultimately, in manufacturing teams. Students attend classes and conduct project work in the 47,000-square-foot CME facility, that features modern classrooms, administration offices, and other manufacturing-focused facilities surrounding a 12,000-square-foot factory floor. Says Miller, “We are not training individuals to be factory floor workers. We are exposing individuals to the factory floor experientially so that they know what goes on there every day — from challenges to safety issues to innovations. Understanding the manufacturing process from all perspectives, from the boardroom to engineering to finance to production, is critical for our graduates to be world-class manufacturers. “This is the only undergraduate program of its kind, comparable only to graduate-level programs offered by Stanford University and the University of Michigan. There is no other program in the country that does what we do the way that we do it. And the CME continually looks for ways in which it can grow academically as well as numerically.”

Team Collaboration with Industry During intersession (between semesters), three special classes are offered in conjunction with actual manufacturing companies based on the Toyota Production Systems format, that Toyota developed and implements internally for their workforce. The three classes are 1) Process Flow, 2) Standardized Work, and 3) Factory Floor Problem Solving. The courses involve students working alongside staff in actual manufacturing companies that sign up to have the students join their team for a temporary assignment. The collaboration is designed to allow the student team to work within, and bring new perspectives to, realworld manufacturing environments. The CME teams have worked with noted manufacturing companies across product verticals, including Viking Range, Parker Racor, and the Yalobusha Brewing Company. Working with the manufacturer’s staff, CME teams research ways to increase efficiency and identify new innovations that can be applied to the company’s processes and floor operations. Some of these collaborations have yielded new best practices that have been adopted by the manufacturing companies. This is a win for all participants. Manufacturers gain new insights, students gain real-world experience (and class credits), and the CME is able to establish relationships and a reputation with the manufacturing community for the center and for the students.


During the two-semester long Capstone Project, the students embark on the product journey beginning with pitching freshly conceived projects to a review board made up of CME faculty and staff. Select projects are chosen, students interview for roles in companies based around their products, and the students take the products through design, budgeting, market research, cost analysis, raw materials research, prototyping, and finally manufacturing production. Over the course of the project, students have access to the manufacturing facilities available at the Center for Manufacturing Excellence, including the boardroom, work areas, corporatestyle office space, and heavily equipped manufacturing floor. The Capstone Project allows students to see the evolution of an idea from conception to planning to the acquisition of raw materials to a fullymanufactured product.

will be participating. Innovation

The CME is a thriving and active example of innovation in the manufacturing community and a pinnacle of manufacturing educational programs. This is evident from the modern facility with 431 solar panels on the roof that, on sunny days, power the entire CME building outside of the manufacturing floor, to the integrated learn-by-doing environment that leverages real-world experience inside the school and with

national manufacturers. Mississippi, being a leading state in the nation for manufacturing, is a logical home for the Center of Manufacturing Excellence. Thanks to the foresight of former Governor Haley Barbour, former Chancellor Robert Khayat, and Toyota, who all took a leap of faith together in 2008 in establishing the center with a focus on all manufacturing, we can now bear witness to its success and its place in the manufacturing community of Mississippi.

Julie Hagan. Cary, NC. 4th Class. Business - Marketing.

Hagan wanted to something different than all of her friends. She wanted the manufacturing knowledge and engineering awareness to compliment her business degree. She was also very attracted to the closeness of the students in the program, the smaller class sizes, and the focused attention from instructors.


Schulz Xtruded Products. Tunica, MS Steel fabrication including seamless pipes for the oil and gas industry

Joseph Reed. Oxford, MS. 3rd Class. Mechanical Engineering.

Reed’s father is an engineer. An emphasis in manufacturing was his first choice. He sees the greatest benefits coming from the hands-on experience, plant visits, process work, and real-world impact with actual manufacturing companies.


BMW. Spartanburg, SC Germany-based luxury automobile manufacturer

Big Success

Ryan Miller, Associate Director External Operations. Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence Ryan Miller, who has a degree in law, was the first official employee of the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence in 2008. His first task was to recruit the initial class. Miller attributes much of his recruiting success to being able to find candidates that are adaptive, a trait that he had to develop as a child during years when his family was constantly moving from coast to coast with his father who was in the Coast Guard. Says Miller, “We use failure to teach, innovate, and guide, as part of our process. A very wise student once pointed out that she had to experience the pain of growth in order to appreciate the success that comes with it.”

What to expect in a CME Student Profile Manufactured in Mississippi 16

Mary Kate Domino. Yorba Linda, CA. 3rd Class. Business - Finance.

Domino comes from an engineering family, and decided to pursue finance. She was drawn by the programs ability to take a big campus and make it smaller. The focus of the program and the attention from faculty were major attractors. The program has helped her feel marketable as a graduate and has demonstrated the power of working together as a cross-disciplinary team. She also appreciates the lessons learned in failure as part of succeeding and the learn-by-doing, projectbased environment.


Clean Energy Fuels. Newport Beach, CA Natural gas fuels, fueling stations, technology, and equipment Texas Instruments. Dallas, TX Global semiconductor design and manufacturing company

Andrew Huff. Pucket, MS. 4th Class. Mechanical Engineering.

Tyler Thompson. Madison, MS. 5th Class. Mechanical Engineering.



Huff was attracted to the integration of business, engineering, and accountancy, as well as the relationships he hoped to establish. He also had the advantage of having an older brother in the program. Hol-Mac. Bay Springs, MS Steel fabrication Medtronic. Memphis, TN Medical technology solutions

Thompson took a tour of the facility on Visit Day and fell in love with the factory floor. He had already embraced the concept of integrating business expertise with engineering, and was attracted by the class size. Thompson is new to the program and is in the process of identifying internships. One of the companies he is considering is Nissan in Canton, Mississippi.


Says Miller, “Our students are the testament to the leap of faith we all took in starting this program. Their successes within the program are outstanding. Their career paths after the program are evidence of the proven approach and the energy being poured into the CME program and its students. This program and these graduates help establish Mississippi as a top tier manufacturing destination for both students and manufacturing companies.” The demand for the program continues to grow, as does the quality of its applicants and the participants. The CME is currently working on plans to fold in the Electrical Engineering program, for a total of four engineering tracks that


Manufactured in Mississippi




Do You Text?

The cellular phone that is likely sitting within arm’s reach of you as you read this article doubtlessly has the capability to send email and text messages. It probably chimes and rings and buzzes multiple times a day alerting you that someone, somewhere, is trying to get in touch with you. Texting and sending mobile email are the norm, creating the expectation that everyone is (or at least should be) instantaneously accessible. Many of these standards of constant access are due to features like Apple’s iMessage and mail apps, which have


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Apple Pays $23.6 Million Over the Foundation Technology for Transmitting and Storing Text Messages Which Was Covered by Patents Filed and Held by MTel in the 1990s.


made mobile text messaging communication effortless on their various AirPort-enabled and IOS devices. But before Apple staked their claim on these technologies, before sending a text became preferable to calling on the phone, paging was the latest breakthrough in communication technology.

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Technology Evolution

In the decades since SkyTel envisioned this technology, both the hardware and software by which we communicate have changed dramatically. These days, instead of having a phone and a pager, those technologies have been combined into the text features and messaging applications that are standard to cell phones and their smarter cousins. Rapidly changing stan-


SkyTel is awarded one of the first three nationwide paging licenses


BellSouth buys a controlling stake in Mobile Communications Corporation of America (MCCA)


MCCA creates subsidiary, National Satellite Paging (NSP)


Bellsouth buys the rest of MCAA, except the subsidiary NSP→ NSP moves under umbrella of Mobile Telecommunication Technologies Corporation (MTel); it’s MTel’s largest subsidiary


NSP renamed to SkyTel Communications

1991 -93

MTel files for and is granted permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish rules and policies for an experimental, narrowband personal communications system (PCS). FCC also grants MTel a “pioneer’s preference” designation for its “innovative proposal”


Microsoft commits to $150 million joint venture with MTel, SkyTel’s parent company


SkyTel launches the first narrowband PCS network; allows for two-way messaging


WorldCom buys SkyTel for $1.8 billion; later that year, WorldCom files bankruptcy


Bell Industries acquired SkyTel (Clinton, MS)


MTel (licensing arm of United Wireless; operates SkyTel network used by doctors and first responders) sues Apple


Federal jury sides with MTel

A Place in History

Two-Way Texting Invented by SkyTel in Mississippi

Twenty years ago, paging technology was revolutionary. Here, in a little plastic device that would fit in the pocket of any elite executive or connected teenager, callback numbers and alphanumeric messages would appear. Paging allowed for instant communication and accessibility, laying the groundwork for being able to reach anyone at any time. One of the most significant technological leaps in paging, two-way communication that enabled one device to both send and receive messages, came from a company based in Clinton, Mississippi — SkyTel. SkyTel was, according to their website, “the first company to offer nationwide numeric and text paging and the first with 2-Way messaging and guaranteed message delivery.” Under the watchful guidance of John Palmer, the Chairman of SkyTel’s parent company Mobile Telecommunication Technologies (MTel), and Jai Bhagat, SkyTel’s President and CEO, SkyTel innovated new technology that revolutionized personal communication with its comprehensive coverage and convenientto-use devices. SkyTel went through various iterations under several different names in tandem with a number of mergers. The company was eventually aquired by WorldCom, whose filing for bankruptcy in 2002 was the largest in United States history, with $107 billion in assets. In 2006, SkyTel was acquired by Bell Industries. However, MTel has continued, throughout many of these transitions, to manage and operate SkyTel and the technology Skytel designed, which is still in use today. Although rarely used for recreational communication now, SkyTel’s two-way paging system is still present in hospitals and is frequently used by first responders to ensure timely communication in areas where cellular service is limited.


dards in software and hardware impact the form and function of our devices. These swiftly occurring transformations in how technology is packaged and sent from one device to another have economic and legal implications as well. These implications come to the fore in court cases pertaining to patent law, an area of law that has, in recent years, become especially concerned with technology patents. So, despite some cosmetic changes, early paging technology remains integral to the function of personal communication devices of today, as one Federal Court of Appeals in Marshall, Texas, found in a patent case concerning MTel and modern tech giant Apple.

SkyTel V. Apple: A David and Goliath Story

The trial, which took place in November of 2014, consisted of MTel suing Apple over allegations that they have been using technology pioneered (and patented) by MTel’s subsidiary in the early 1990s. At their inception, SkyTel’s innovations in alphanumeric paging, international paging, two-way

This case, and numerous others like it, beg the question of how much technology really changes over time. Surely, new versions of computers, tablets, phones, and various operating systems will continue to be developed for the foreseeable future. But in this instance, technology that was cutting edge in the 1990s is still relevant to the devices we use daily. At its heart, personal technology is rooted in communication; through paging, texting, email, and all the other modes of communication we employ on our various devices, we are trying to communicate with others. And Mississippi is proud to have fostered the technology that makes those connections possible.


messaging, and text-to-voice messaging completely altered the landscape of personal telecommunication. But unlike the paging devices themselves, which have become practically archaic to most tech-savvy individuals, the programming that runs them is still relevant. In fact, it is foundational for Apple’s transmission and storage of messages in the company’s IOS programs and devices equiped with Wi-Fi and AirPort. Because MTel’s work had been patented, MTel had ample grounds for the suit they brought against Apple. In November 2014, the jury determined that Apple had used the technology without payment or permission and thus owed MTel a total of $23.6 million dollars in damages and reparations for patent infringement. In a statement to Bloomberg Business, Andrew Fitton, chief executive officer of United Wireless, called the win a “vindication” for all the work the engineers at SkyTel had done “way ahead of their time.”


MMA Insurance Services was created by manufacturers, for manufacturers and is run by a board of directors composed of manufacturers. Obtaining your insurance coverages from multiple sources is time consuming and often more expensive. MMA has a superior partner in Berkley Southeast Insurance Group. By teaming with Berkley SIG, MMA is able to offer multiple coverages at affordable pricing for qualified members. Because of the combined strengths of both organizations, we now offer: • MULTI-STATE COVERAGES • COMMERCIAL PROPERTY • AUTO LIABILITY • PRODUCT LIABILITY • GENERAL LIABILITY • UNPARALLELED CLAIMS AND LOSS CONTROL SERVICES To see if the Association can benefit your company with competitive pricing AND the highest level of services, ask your agent for a quote from MMA or contact: Renee Johnson • • (601) 573-3636 Melissa Saxton • • (601) 292-1120

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By matthew jackson / Featured writer

If you rewind the clock 20 years, a conversation about automotive manufacturing in Mississippi would never take place. Building cars and parts for cars was restricted largely to cities like Detroit. That all changed in 2001, when Nissan chose Canton, Mississippi, as the site of a new North American production plant, and automobiles soon began rolling off the assembly line. Growth

Manufactured in Mississippi 26

The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), in conjunction with other state, federal, and private agencies, put together a great incentive package for Nissan as part of attracting them to build their new plant in Canton. Nissan was, for the industry, a sort of test case; other manufacturers watched to see how they would fare in this state new to automotive manufacturing. Canton’s Nissan plant is now one of the most complex automotive manufacturing plants in the country, with eight different vehicle models coming off the assembly lines. Nissan’s location in Mississippi bore fruit, and other manufacturers were not long in noticing. The positive results opened the floodgates for others in the industry to begin considering the

benefits of locating their next facility in Mississippi. Don Stoegbauer, executive director of the Mississippi Automotive Manufacturers Association (MAMA), says that “Nissan’s choice of Mississippi started a landslide of movement in the automotive sector that changed the landscape of automotive manufacturing in the state.” Notable additions of manufacturers include Toyota, PACCAR, Green Tech Automotive, Yokohama Tire, and Continental Tire. Upwards of 50 more Tier 1, 2, and 3 suppliers have located in the state since then, building parts and providing services to Mississippi’s automotive manufacturing plants.

Why Mississippi

Says Stoegbauer, “There are many reasons for automotive manufacturers to choose Mississippi, but the cornerstone is the workforce. Mississippi has a workforce that does high-quality work, and is prepared to come to work every day and do their best. Incentives are nice, but no package of incentives would ever have been enough without the Mississippi workforce.” In addition to the workforce, support for the auto industry has become another major factor in helping convince manufacturers to locate in the state. Both state government and private parties throw their support behind these projects, making sure everything lines up for success. Other significant factors impacting the phenomenal growth of automotive manufacturing in Mississippi include the state tax structure, incentive packages, economic environment, land for building and expansion, secondary education for workforce training and development, direct access to rail, air, and shipping lanes, and the continued movement of suppliers into the state.


The rapid growth of the industry in Mississippi has obviously been beneficial for the state’s economy, but no change comes without challenges. As automotive manufacturing has expanded in Mississippi and across the region, regional resources have been stretched to support all of the new plants and industry. One of the largest challenges is having an experienced workforce in place to step into the various positions needed in manufacturing plants. Manufacturers need local development programs and strategies to retain and attract qualified talent to the state. Mississippi is tackling this challenge by continuing to expand workforce development programs in the state, especially supporting university and college programs designed to train people to work in these facilities. Many of these programs exist, including the CAVS Extension at Mississippi State, the University of Mississippi’s Center for Manufacturing Excellence, and myriad training programs at state community colleges, often designed in conjunction with local manufacturing facilities. Technology is another challenge area that Mississippi is stepping up to tackle. The automotive plants locating here need technology to help improve the manufacturing process. Technology impacts everything from efficiency and productivity to worker safety. Stoegbauer gave a perfect example of how Mississippi is addressing this need: “The CAVS Extension and MAMA partnered together to host an Innovation Conference in early 2016, which brought together manufacturers and over 60 technology, component, tool, robot, and assembly equipment companies at Nissan’s Canton plant to look at innovations and how new technology could help each individual plant.”

Manufactured in Mississippi


“Mississippi has a workforce that does high quality work, and is prepared to come to work every day and do their best.”



Rewarding and significant careers are being created by the growth of automotive manufacturing in Mississippi, and as long as these and other challenges are met when they arise, Mississippi should continue attracting interest from this particular industry segment.

MAMA: Mississippi Automotive Manufacturers Association

MAMA was founded in 2005 to “provide a forum for interaction among automotive manufacturing companies in Mississippi.” MAMA works to further automotive manufacturing in Mississippi through various avenues, including encouraging company cooperation, hosting informative and collaborative gatherings, and even offering college scholarships for students planning to study in fields related to automotive manufacturing. MAMA works today to help problem-solve and improve the automotive industry in the state. A significant piece of this work right now involves fostering synergy between MAMA and other automotive associations in surrounding states. While the southern states do compete for new jobs and industry, MAMA’s vision is to also have them cooperating to further develop what is becoming known as the Southern Automotive Corridor. 2016 is a significant year for MAMA, since they will host the annual Southern Automotive Conference in Biloxi this October. It is Stoegbauer’s hope that the conference further helps states collaborate where it makes sense — developing the regional workforce, sharing ideas, setting benchmark goals, and developing best practices for manufacturing excellence and safety. Working together, the region will continue improving, and Mississippi will continue its incredible growth in the automotive manufacturing sector.

“MAMA works today to help problem-solve and improve the automotive industry in the state.”

What is MAMA working on now?

For more infomation on MAMA and the work they do, please visit their website:


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• “The Southern Automotive Conference,” Biloxi, MS, October 2016 • Workforce development • College scholarships • Regional cooperation


a history of solid investments

Manufactured in Mississippi 32

fueling economic development for more than 50 years Since operation began in 1963, the Chevron Pascagoula Refinery has grown to be Chevron’s largest domestic refinery and one of the country’s top petroleum refineries. Our Pascagoula Refinery’s continuous growth has been fueled by a shared economic development strategy based on solid, long-term investments that continue to benefit both our company and the community. We salute the people and the leaders of Mississippi and Jackson County as our partners in progress.

visit our web site at

Manufactured in Mississippi 34

By MATTHEW JACKSON / Featured writer

Glenn McCullough, Jr., executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), has his finger on the pulse of economic development in the state of Mississippi. A man with definitive ideas, plans, goals, and a vision for both the businesses and the people of the state, McCullough emphasizes that the recent achievements of the MDA result from his team and their partners’ shared interest in Mississippi’s success.


“We focus foremost on people, on making plays and getting things done, and continually looking for ways to do our job better. This is how MDA helps the people of Mississippi win.”



Success in 2016

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Though we are barely past the midpoint of 2016, it has already been a historic year for economic development in Mississippi. average salary for the 3,500 newly created jobs will be $40,000 On February 8 of this year, the state acquired two masannually, which is nearly double the average per capita income sive development projects. Edison Chouest for jobs in Mississippi today. Offshore’s TopShip, LLC announced a $68 Both of these major capital investments “Although 2016 has million inland port investment at the Port are in the manufacturing sector, as are nearof Gulfport. Their presence will mean ap- already been a record- ly 80% of all MDA supported projects. proximately 1,000 additional Mississippians breaking year for ecoSeveral other significant developments will have jobs building ships once the project nomic development in in and/or involving the MDA are curreaches completion. Later the same day, Con- Mississippi, MDA and its rently underway as well. These include the tinental Tire released plans for a $1.45 billion partners have no plans submission to the Mississippi legislature investment to build a production plant on the of a performance-based budget for 2016, Industrial Drive in Clinton. This plant, once to rest or to bask in as well as the establishment of an internal their accomplishments.” “winning performance” scorecard, both of completed, will employ 2,500 Mississippians. This news set a record for the greatest capwhich are designed to assess the perforital investment and projected job creation for the state in a mance of the MDA based on quantifiable results. In 2016, single day — totaling $1.518 billion and 3,500 new jobs. The Mississippi became the first state to submit a comprehensive


When we sat down with McCullough last fall, he noted that his priorities for the MDA included excellent performance in economic development, departmental accountability, and clear communication and collaboration with partners. Over the past few months, the MDA has put these plans into action, fostering an unprecedented spike in economic development, as well as the expansion of initiatives such as OneMississippi and Mississippi Works.

Continuing to grow international interest in investment in Mississippi also ranks high on the to-do list for the MDA in 2016. The Hannover Messe 2016 in April of this year was a huge event for the MDA and its partners. The delegation, including representatives of four companies and three economic developers, participated in 19 trade meetings. Han“Up Around the Bend”: MDA Initiatives for nover Messe is the world’s largest industrial fair, and in addithe Remainder of 2016 tion to the United States being this year’s Although 2016 has already been guest of honor, Mississippi had a booth a record-breaking year for economic “When site selection conand a strong delegation at the Messe. development in Mississippi, MDA sultants look to Missisand its partners have no plans to rest Keep Your Eye on the Prize sippi for potential sites or to bask in their accomplishments. The Mississippi Development AuNew goals and opportunities await. for their clients, we will thority’s focus is precise — People, The overarching objective is specific have not only a list of poProcess, Product. and clear: doing everything possible tential sites, but also an McCullough’s explanation of the to achieve a higher level of agency accompanying written rephrase reveals the direction of the performance, which results in stronMDA: teamwork with partners and view for the consultants ger economic development for the leaders in all levels of government, state and ultimately benefits the peoincluding everything from community, and private industry; deple of Mississippi. utility reports to populasire to improve internal processes; and OneMississippi is an initiative gartion statistics.” helping Mississippi offer even more nering excitement around the MDA. and better products to the world. McThis program brings together MDA, Cullough says, “We focus foremost on economic developers, utility companies, and community colpeople, on making plays and getting things done, and leges, among other partners, with the goal of compiling an incontinually looking for ways to do our job better. This is ventory of ready sites in the state. McCullough says, “When how MDA helps the people of Mississippi win.” site selection consultants look to Mississippi for potential sites for their clients, we will have not only a list of potential sites, but also an accompanying written review for the consultants including everything from utility reports to population statistics.” workforce development plan to the U.S. Department of Labor, with the goal of continuing to improve our workforce, one of the state’s greatest selling points when companies consider locating to or expanding in Mississippi.


By BRYAN CARTER / Featured writer

Manufactured in Mississippi 38

Natural gas is the cleanest of all fossil fuels. It is used directly in its natural state in industrial capacities as well as in household appliances. As of 2016, it is also the predominant fuel for generating electricity. High quantities of natural gas flow from the Southwest — Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma — and the Gulf of Mexico directly through the heart of Mississippi, giving the state plentiful access to the natural resource, reduced energy cost, and the designation of hub for the southeastern and midwestern natural gas supply. After significant growth through expansion and acquisitions, Atmos Energy Corporation has become one of the largest natural gas distribution companies in the U.S., serving over three million customers. The company operates in eight states, primarily in the Southeast and Midwest. The company owns storage facilities and pipelines, including one of the largest intrastate, natural gas pipeline systems in the state of Texas.


What do electrical power plants, refuse trucks, and your kitchen stove have in common? They all can be powered by natural gas, one of the most abundant fossil fuels in North America.


In Mississippi, Atmos Energy has become a leader for the energy community. Its publicly shared plan for proactive reinvestments in infrastructure improvements across the state demonstrates its commitment to long-term quality and safety. The company’s rising stock price is evidence that the investment community also shares enthusiasm for the company’s future. Bob Kerley, Vice President of Marketing for Atmos Energy’s Mississippi Division, says,“We are very fortunate to be part of a company that invests capital in our delivery systems. Atmos Energy strives to be a leader in the industry in infrastructure management and delivering a safe, reliable energy resource for businesses and residential customers. The majority of our investments go toward making our safe natural gas delivery system even safer. Using natural gas as an energy source results in cleaner air, energy independence, and savings for our customers.”

The Business Advantage of Low Energy Cost

Abundant Supply

Says Kerley, “Natural gas is a commodity whose current market price is comparable to what it was in the early ‘90s. Other energy prices such as electricity, propane, and fuel oil, have experienced rising prices over the same period. The natural gas industry is positioned to meet new demand at affordable prices well into the future.” At one time, natural gas was thought to be in short supEfficiency ply. Then came advances in Natural gas is used regutechnology that enabled prolarly as an energy source for duction from shale rock that space heating, transportation is located in virtually every fuel, commercial cooking, and • The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) part of the United States. various industrial processes. reports that the United States produced 24.13 trillion Bolstered supplies have con“Natural gas is more efficient, cubic feet (tcf ) of dry natural gas in 2013. Natural gas tributed significantly to lower less expensive, and safer for produced by shale oil fields account for 11.34 tcf, or price volatility. In 2014, the the environment than gener47%, of that production. U.S. estimated that the comated electricity. Using natural bination of reserves plus regas results in only half of the • The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) resources was enough to meet greenhouse gases when comports that in 2015 the U.S natural-gas use was 24.47 America’s energy needs for pared to other fossil fuels used tcf; natural gas international imports were 2.72 tcf and more than 100 years. Price for electricity. It is also the least stability and long-term supnatural gas international exports were 1.78 tcf. expensive major fuel source to ply support a low risk profile use for heating,” says Kerley. that is highly attractive in toThe direct use of natural gas day’s energy market. Access, safety, availability, low price, low as an energy source (for instance, as used in a gas furnace or volatility, stability, and utility are the attributes large manufacgas water heater) is the most efficient. When used directly, turers are seeking in an energy source. natural gas maintains about 92% of its usable energy after the production and distribution process. Thus, only 8% of energy is lost in the process. However, when natural gas is used as a Natural Gas Distribution Hub of the South fuel source to generate electricity, only 32% of usable energy The U.S. produces over 85% of the natural gas it consumes, is delivered to the customer. That equates to approximately and more natural gas flows through pipelines in Mississippi 68% of the energy being lost in the generation and transmisthan any other state in the U.S. Mississippi has a vast network sion process. So, when possible, it is always more efficient to of interstate pipelines, and most major pipeline companies are use natural gas directly than to first convert it to electricity. operating in Mississippi. Much of the gas flowing through the Manufacturers that realize these advantages demand access to state is ultimately distributed to customers in the Northeast as reliable natural gas for their manufacturing facilities, particuwell as to states along the Eastern Seaboard. larly when choosing new locations for expansion. The stability of the energy supply and the price point are


Manufactured in Mississippi 40

both factors manufacturers weigh heavily when choosing a

prospective location. The benefits of Mississippi’s superior access to natural gas are passed on to the manufacturing community through plentiful access and cost savings.

An Open Plan for Capital Improvements

Running a natural gas company is not easy. Companies that do not adequately account for pipeline maintenance, upgrades, and capital improvements, and those that do not understand and anticipate regulatory compliance, have a very difficult time surviving and sometimes find themselves in compromised positions. Atmos Energy has worked hard to make sure it has strong leadership, extensive fiscal planning, fortified reserves, and determination to address infrastructure upgrades proactively, before there are major issues, so that it delivers on its promise of safety and reliability for its customers. Says Kerley, “Atmos Energy has a financial plan that calls

for significant capital improvements across the board, with a focus on infrastructure. Our plan enables us to further improve system integrity, increase capacity, and provide decades of operating life.” The plan to which Kerley refers is a long-term plan for infrastructure improvements. The annual company investments scheduled for infrastructure replacement are expected to rise to $40 million in 2017 and increase to $75 million by 2021. All long-term capital investment plans are reviewed and approved annually by public service regulators. Says Kerley, “These capital improvement funds are monies on top of the already scheduled funds for growth projects, structures, equipment, vehicles, and information technology budgets. Fiscal planning and responsibility is part of our equation to deliver our product safely and dependably, and to help maintain stable pricing over time.”

New Technology

Pipeline infrastructure installed decades ago traditionally used cast-iron and bare steel piping. Over time those materials corrode and create problems, especially if they were installed prior to the establishment of federal pipeline regulations. Many of the northeastern states have been plagued with failures and outages for this very reason. From 1999 to 2009, Atmos Energy started and completed the ambitious task of replacing its cast-iron piping infrastructure in Mississippi. In that 10-year period the company replaced over 200 miles of cast-iron pipe. Recently the company has ramped up its investments to replace aging infrastructure. The company commenced its current improvement plan in 2015 to continue its effort to replace bare steel piping. The remaining bare steel piping is being replaced with new, coated and wrapped steel piping using new welding techniques that are less susceptible to corrosion and leaking. These improvements in the distribution system promise to provide a more dependable working life of the piping infrastructure with improved safety and performance.


The cost of energy significantly affects the bottom line of most manufacturing and large business operations. Mississippi’s access to abundant natural gas supply resources drives energy costs down for natural gas customers. The low cost of energy is one of Mississippi’s competitive advantages in attracting businesses, especially energy-intensive manufacturing businesses that depend on a low cost of energy to operate, such as Steel Dynamics in Columbus and Yokohama Tires in West Point.


Social Responsibility

Energy companies have been stepping up and providing plans and incentives for customers to be more energy efficient. Atmos Energy is among them, and in 2014 rolled out their SmartChoice Energy Efficiency Program. As part of its SmartChoice Energy Efficiency Program, Atmos Energy provides energy audits to its commercial customers at no cost. The audits help the customers identify energy saving measures, and the company provides recommendations on initiatives they can take. There are also financial incentives in place through rebates on equipment replacement. Says Kerley, “With advances in energy efficiency, some new equipment can pay for itself within 12 months, not including the incentives we provide. Customers who take advantage of our recommendations and programs are often genuinely surprised at the money they save, which goes straight to their bottom line.” Atmos Energy has also received several awards across states that are in its service area for corporate culture, including two “Best Places to Work” awards in Mississippi. Says Kerley, “Our corporate culture translates into results for the company and high performance at all levels. It is also the catalyst that allows the company to achieve its vision of being recognized for exceptional customer service.”

Energy Reliance

The United States is continually exploring ways to meet increasing demands for energy consumption. There is also a push to reduce the country’s dependence on international energy imports. Natural gas as an energy source has many benefits, including its abundance, high energy-to-use efficiency, and release of fewer greenhouse gases than any other fossilbased fuel. However, without a company to reliably manage the collection and distribution of natural gas, it would never be practical. The United States has become an energy leader in natural gas production. Because of Mississippi’s unique position as a distribution hub for natural gas, both residents and businesses benefit from the abundance of natural gas as a resource and its low cost point. It is critical that we have companies like Atmos Energy that can reliably and safely supply our homes and businesses with natural gas.

Atmos Energy’s Service Model Atmos Energy manages the distribution of the abundant natural gas resources to both business and residential communities. To put it simply, Atmos takes gas from the pipeline to the end user. Atmos Energy has two classifications of business customers:

Transportation Customers Sales Customers Just as they do with residential accounts, Atmos Energy provides turn-key services for business accounts; delivering the entire transaction from the producer to the customer location. Sales Customers make up the majority of Atmos Energy’s business customers. With over 260,000 customers and growing, Atmos is the largest natural gas distributor in Mississippi, serving nearly half of all natural gas customers in the state.


Manufactured in Mississippi 42

These business customers are high volume users that buy the commodity directly from producer agents and employ Atmos Energy to deliver it.


With a focus on safety, quality and sustainability, approximately 1,200 Caterpillar employees operate within five facilities in Corinth and Booneville. These locations remanufacture engines and large engines components, in addition to providing core inspection, dealer support, salvage development and logistics services. The Caterpillar Remanufacturing Operation returns end-of-life components to “same-as-when-new” condition in terms of reliability, durability and performance. Remanufacturing reduces waste, minimizes the need for raw materials to produce new parts and supports the Caterpillar value proposition of providing customers with the lowest life cycle cost over the life of a product.

Photo by SB Photography

A proud member of the community since 1982, Caterpillar and its employees support the United Way, Northeast Mississippi Community College, area schools and other charitable and civic organizations. In 2011, the company recognized its Mississippi remanufacturing facilities with the Caterpillar Foundation Community Service Award. In 2014, Corinth hosted the Caterpillar Executive Office and Board of Directors for the company’s Annual Shareholders Meeting.


A state leader in workforce training and community education. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is an Equal Opportunity Employer and welcomes students and employees without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age or qualified disability. For further information, contact the Equal Opportunity Officer at a Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Center, Campus, or the District Office. Compliance is coordinated by the Vice President for Administration and Finance, Perkinston Campus, P. O. Box 609, Perkinston, Mississippi 39573, telephone number 601-928-5211.

By BRYAN CARTER / Featured writer

Manufactured in Mississippi 46

People often think of steel and metal fabrication when they think of manufacturing. However, manufacturing covers a broad spectrum of any goods produced on a large scale, with the Mississippi manufacturing base covering everything from warships to aircraft to textiles to food products. Home to manufacturers of all sizes, from giants like Ingalls Shipbuilding, Nissan, Toyota, GE Aviation, and Sanderson Farms, to smaller, homegrown operations across the state, every year Mississippi attracts new manufacturers from around the country and around the globe who undertake extensive searches before choosing Mississippi as home.


Securing new manufacturing operations is extremely competitive. Other states and countries all vie to attract new business, employment opportunities, and a greater tax base. Mississippi has excelled at creating a pro-manufacturing environment that offers significant advantage to manufacturers seeking a location for operations.


Mississippi is a Manufacturing State. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant encourages all manufacturers in Mississippi to join together, from the manufacturing startups to the established leaders. There is a place for all levels of manufacturing production in Mississippi.


• geographic advantage with centralized access to many markets, a distributive advantage with direct access to sea, rail, land, and air • workforce advantage with access to a population that is known to be above average in loyalty, dedication, and appreciation • access to natural resources including timber, land, natural gas, and fresh water • a business-friendly environment featuring pro-business tax laws and tort reform • a governing body that provides financial incentives for new and expanding manufacturing prospects • state agencies missioned with supporting manufacturing • educational programs designed in cooperation with manufacturers who have a central purpose of developing the State’s workforce Each and every one of these advantages are leveraged when attracting new manufacturing business to the state.

Manufacturers Choose Mississippi

During the first quarter of 2016, Mississippi signed deals with two significant manufacturers that are an integral fit in the state’s manufacturing community — Continental Tires and TopShip. Continental Tires (Continental AG) chose Mississippi as the home of a new manufacturing plant after evaluating four countries and 11 states. The selection was made in part because they recognized Mississippi to be a leader in automobile manufacturing (Mississippi now produces around 400K vehicles per year) as well as offering a broad manufacturing base. Access to a qualified manufacturing workforce was another critical factor in their decision making. The new Mississippi location provides access to approximately 100,000 workers within a 60 mile radius of the new plant. Edison Chouest Offshore chose to locate its new shipbuilding company, TopShip, LLC, on Mississippi’s coast. TopShip will play an integral part of the Port of the Future plan that

Manufactured in Mississippi 48

was initiated by former governor Haley Barbour and is scheduled to be completed during Governor Bryant’s term. The port, which just received three new world-class gantry cranes in March 2016, will benefit from the 1,000 jobs that TopShip expects to create in the shipbuilding facility. The state was able to make available approximately $270 million in incentives benefiting those companies to help secure those deals and ensure that those jobs and the ensuing tax base would come to Mississippi.

Mississippi Is a Manufacturing State

In an interview, the governor explained how Mississippi stands out as one of the best locations in the country for domestic and international manufacturers to open operations. WORKFORCE While state-sponsored financial incentives are a fundamental attractor to potential manufacturers, workforce continues to be perhaps the most critical factor in attracting both international and state-side manufacturers. The character of the Mississippi workforce is one benefit that is attractive to potential manufacturers. The manufacturing community in Mississippi is vital. The character of the Mississippi worker is authentic. Says Governor Bryant, “These are good workers. They put in a full work week. They spend Friday nights under the lights coaching and watching their kids’ games. They spend Sunday morning at church. This is who you want working for you.” Workforce Development Over the past decade, Mississippi has made great efforts to develop a world-class, mid-level workforce, beginning with K-12 education. Through initiatives like the 2013 Mississippi Literacy-Based Promotion Act, which requires children to pass a test in order to move on beyond the third grade; manufacturer-co-sponsored programs in high schools, colleges, and universities; and dedicated centers of expertise, manufacturing is supported legislatively, educationally, and by the public. It is very evident that support for the manufacturing industry in Mississippi is omnipresent.

Workforce Growth Investment in the workforce pays off. The employee survey shows job growth of approximately 45,000 in the past four and a half years, primarily in manufacturing. In the first quarter of 2016, the Mississippi Development Authority already attributes 3,983 jobs created directly from private investment. Workforce Loyalty The Mississippi workforce is loyal. There are uncommonly strong bonds between employees and employers that exist in Mississippi in great abundance. The governor recently visited Hunter Engineering Company in Durant, Mississippi, to help them celebrate their 40th anniversary. Hunter imports 5,000 tons of steel annually to produce heavy-duty automotive maintenance and repair equipment, including hydraulic lifts, brake lathes, wheel balancers, and alignment systems. Hunter is one example of a manufacturer that has multiple employees who have been with the company since the doors opened, in this case 40 years ago. Says Governor Bryant, “Mississippians in the workforce are exceptional. Ours is a workforce that shows up on time, puts in a good day’s work, and takes pride in their work. Mississippi manufacturers have a love affair with what they do. We make things and are rewarded by the outcome every day.” SUPPORTING MANUFACTURING AT ALL LEVELS Says Governor Bryant, “We are constantly evaluating and redefining our manufacturing efforts so that we are constantly improving and adapting to the current best practices in manufacturing.” Through state agencies and organizations, manufacturers are assisted with licensing, permitting, and other challenges faced by companies starting up. Organizations like Mississippi Manufacturers Association (MMA), Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), and Innovate Mississippi are all there to provide resources, guidance, and assistance to our manufacturing community.

Manufacturing in Mississippi

Mississippi is a diverse and highly technical manufacturing state. It features a low cost of doing business and offers a high quality of life for the people who work and live in the Magnolia State. All manufacturers are welcome in Mississippi. While Mississippi is known in the manufacturing community for manufacturing the most advanced warships on the planet at Ingalls Shipbuilding; hundreds of thousands of two of the world’s most popular automobile brands, Nissan and Toyota; three top brand tires; the world’s most advanced radar systems at Raytheon; military helicopters at Airbus; and unmanned aircraft, the state manufactures goods of all kinds. “If you want to manufacture things of quality by people who care, you can come to Mississippi,” says Governor Phil Bryant “From the most advanced robotic operations to vertically integrated operations to traditional manufacturing businesses, we are drawn to manufacturing just as manufacturing is drawn to us. Much of our workforce is just one generation away from farming and knows the value of hard work, from sun up to sunset. As a people, we are driven by a sense of accomplishment. We don’t just see a warship or a tire or a case of ammunition. We see the ship that defends our country. We see the tire that gets a family home safely. We see the ammunition that is used to protect us from threats like ISIL and ISIS and the Taliban. “In Mississippi, manufacturing matters to us all.”

MISSISSIPPI WORKS FUND Governor Bryant selected Jay Moon, President and CEO of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, to be a leader in developing strategic plans to further grow Mississippi’s skilled workforce. The Mississippi Works Fund will dedicate financial resources to growing the skilled workforce through training, job creation, and job retention. To launch the fund, the first year’s state contribution is $10 million. After year one, the plan calls for continued annual state contributions at $5 million per year. THE UNEMPLOYMENT TRUST FUND Mississippi boasts an actuarially sound Unemployment Trust Fund reserve due to 26% less demand on unemployment in 2015. Mississippi is leveraging the return on the reserve to reduce the unemployment tax for businesses and workers, and to eliminate the tax completely in two years. Employers and employees alike will celebrate the removal of that line item from their pay stubs. This is one more incentive for manufacturers and workers to choose Mississippi as a place to call home.


Some of the core advantages Mississippi offers include:


Completing the circuit.



At Entergy, the circuit means more than electricity. It means connection and potential. Families. Neighborhoods. Businesses. We’re all part of a circuit. So we invest in industry. Inspire education. Nurture community. We empower each other. And together, we power life.

At Mississippi Power, we’re committed to providing clean, safe and reliable energy to residential and business customers every day. Our highly skilled workforce reflects the very best that Mississippi has to offer. And we, along with other Mississippi companies, are dedicated to empowering our communities and making the state a better place to live, work and thrive.


A message from Entergy Mississippi, Inc. ©2016 Entergy Services, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

By Bryan Carter / Featured writer

How do your online properties represent your company? Do they build credibility? Do they generate confidence? Do they accurately portray what your company does and why it is different and better than its competitors?

EXPERT EA ARTICLE This Editorial is Provided

Manufactured in Mississippi 52

EA EXPERT ARTICLE This Editorial is Provided by an Industry Expert


by an Industry Expert


While it is fair to say that social media is more important for some businesses than others, an understanding of social media is a must for all businesses. There are several types of social media, each with a different focus. So, it is more accurate to say that different social media tools and properties are better for different businesses. For example, a women’s boutique may thrive by placing new product images on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, while a manufacturing company will likely find a great deal of usefulness through LinkedIn and YouTube channels, where they can connect with professionals in their industry and share videos of processes and expertise. Discounting social media altogether for any business is likely short-sighted, and may have financial ramifications.

Manufactured in Mississippi 54

Have you ever been on a website and been lost, can’t find the information you are looking for, or can’t even find a phone number to call? A person always has a mission when going online. There is always a problem to solve. The goal of online properties should be to help solve user problems and provide some guidance. Anything getting in the way of the user’s mission is frustrating. Being lost on a website with poor navigation and lack of information is frustrating. A customer who is online and frustrated is going to associate the frustration and aggravation of a poorly designed website with that company. A frustrated (potential) customer may never contact the company. And, if they do, they may start their relationship irritated or simply think the company is not professional. Do you despise websites that are busy, boring, or not visual enough? When browsing a website, especially for the first time, the

natural user tendency is to first scan the page. Users are scanning for photos, illustrations, graphs, or anything else that conveys information visually. Users next scan headings and bullets. This exercise of scanning is a way for users to quickly find information that is going to be useful to them. Users are trying to decide if there is content that is worth dedicating their time to reading or investigating further. A design being either too busy or too boring are common complaints among unsatisfied users. When a website is too busy, the clutter is distracting and in the way of the user’s task at hand. Users who do not feel like they are getting what they need quickly and easily will likely leave the site. Remember, users are on a mission and do not like to waste time. They also have little tolerance for unappealing experiences. Always keep in mind, users have options. Chances are their search engine gave them thousands of options to choose from beyond a single business’s site. Make sure your site lives up to your users’ needs and expectations. Is your social media presence lacking or nonexistent? Social media is a broad term. The fact is that more and more people take advantage of social media to gather information on people and businesses. Social media has also taken a leading role as a way to communicate directly with customers — sharing function with older mediums like direct mail and email.

In Google searches, is your website at the bottom of the list or not showing up at all? The first step in an online experience is being found. When people want to find something online they go straight to their smartphone, smart device, or computer and “Google it.” If a website or online property cannot be easily found using a search engine, most users searching for the site simply will not find the site. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing websites and online properties so they show up higher in online searches, with the first position on the first page being the premier placement. Optimizing an online presence is not a mechanical, onesize-fits-all process. Optimization must be tailored to a business and its goals. To properly optimize a site for search engines, it must be managed so that it will be found when users search with terms that are accurate for the business, or with terms that are “close enough,” taking into account some misspellings or slightly inaccurate information. It also involves the integration of all of the online properties of the business. Gone are the days of the Yellow Pages. Here are the days of the search engine. SEO is critical for businesses today to make sure they are found online. Having a broken online presence or being nonexistent in search engines damages credibility and will cost a business customers. Do your online properties work for all devices? Today, more than half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices — specifically smartphones and tablets. If online properties do not account for these smaller screen sizes, they may lose customers who find the content and site difficult to interpret and navigate. Additionally, in April 2015, Google officially declared that sites that are not “mobile friendly” may be penalized in search results when users are searching from mobile devices. That means that if a site is not mobile friendly it may not even be seen by more than half of online users — those who are searching from smartphones and tablets. Tend to your online properties and they will tend to you Deficiencies in online presence are common, as are the detrimental effects. Many companies do not put forth effort to establish a proper online presence simply because they never have in the past and they “have gotten by fine without it so

far.” That false reasoning does not exempt those companies from the effects of not establishing an online presence, or fixing and maintaining one that is lacking. A proper online presence works past company hours. It never sleeps. It represents the company to customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Creating and maintaining an online presence does take effort, but it is definitely achievable. It requires technical knowledge, business acumen, and creativity. Websites, social sites, and online registrations must be set up properly and integrated. Creative, accurate, and effective content and media must be generated and placed. Brand strategy must be positioned and followed. If your company does not have expertise on staff, there are professional agencies that can help. It is important to find one that understands your company and works well with your team. Design, programming, writing, photography, video, SEO, online advertising, and hosting all are typical elements in an online presence. The more that the agency can produce in-house, the better. Making wise choices in your company’s online presence will prevent damage caused by poorly executed elements that do not represent your company, and will help you avoid lost business due to having no online presence at all. Wise choices will help grow your business, help you recruit new employees, help customers find you, and help you represent your company to the world in a way that is appropriate, and will ultimately gain mind and market share for your business.

Bryan Carter is the President of Think Webstore in Ridgeland, Mississippi, and an author.


The online customer visit has become every bit as important as the face-to-face visit for businesses. All too often, companies today still do not behave as though online customers are equal to those who walk into their physical location. It seems that the adage “out of sight, out of mind” is out-leveraging the importance of the online customer. Being blind to the online customer experience has an impact. It is commonplace for customers to visit company websites to check out things before committing to an in-person visit. In retail, customers shop online for televisions before visiting the store to actually buy one. Patients visit medical provider sites to get addresses, maps, and phone numbers before their office visit. In business, potential customers and suppliers visit a company website to gauge the credibility and capability of the company before engaging the company. In addition to having a healthy, working, online presence, every business should be aware of how they compare to their competitors online. People commonly browse more than one company from the convenience of their computer or smartphone and will come to conclusions when contrasting them. The vitality of a business’s online presence can be the difference between a potential customer actually calling or a referred customer following through on a recommendation to use the business.


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Have Your Next Meeting With Us! Pearl River Resort offers meeting facilities of every size to make your gathering successful and your stay memorable. Our state-of-the-art meeting venues can accommodate a wide range of functions, from training seminars and sales presentations to cocktail receptions and awards banquets.

Mississippi, it’s a pleasure doing business with you.

At Pearl River Resort, convention and meeting attendees will experience the best of both worlds…the ability to meet in a professional environment and tons of built-in entertainment including gaming, golf, spa, dining, shopping, and more.

From a modest feed-and-seed store in small-town

We have everything you need for the perfect gathering!

Mississippi to one of the largest poultry producers

Call our Resort Sales coordinators at 601-663-0335 to plan your event today!

in the country, Sanderson Farms is proud of our Mississippi heritage. Whether it’s our employees, the independent farmers who tend our flocks, or the folks who help us host the Sanderson Farms Championship, Mississippi, and the people who call it home, are at the heart of everything we do.

Manufactured in Mississippi 56

Join the Experience! Follow us! Proud Supporter of

Pearl River Resort • Choctaw, MS near Philadelphia • 1.866.44PEARL(1.866.447.3275) • A development of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians


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Creative Economy


Mississippi Minority EIB


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Simmons Farm-Raised Catfish Company 2628 Erickson Road • Yazoo City, MS 39194 • (662) 746-5687


Simmons Farm-Raised Catfish Company 2628 Erickson Road • Yazoo City, MS 39194 • (662) 746-5687


Join the growing group of companies who call Mississippi home. With 15 ports, including two deep-water ports on the

Manufactured in Mississippi 58

Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi excels as an outlet to worldwide commerce. The Mississippi Coast Foreign Trade Zone #92 is 5,000 acres of secured sites located in three coastal counties. The Port of Pascagoula is in the top 20 U.S. ports for foreign cargo volume. The Port of Gulfport is the second-largest importer of green fruit in the country. Convenient rail access and a centralized location means Mississippi offers single-day roadway access to more than 55 percent of U.S. businesses, providing an added competitive manufacturing edge. Visit and learn why global companies select Mississippi.

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