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Magnolia on the Move: August 1, 2023

Magnolia on the Move: August 1, 2023

By: Frank Corder - August 1, 2023

Spotlighting the people and businesses in Mississippi making headlines in their communities and across their industry.

Here’s a look at what’s happening across the workforce and business community in Mississippi.

Cold-Link Logistics is a rapidly expanding cold storage warehouse company in the United States. The company recently celebrated the groundbreaking of their 198,000 square foot cold storage facility being constructed in Ellisville, Mississippi.

Cold-Link Logistics

The ceremony included notable speakers such as Johnny Burnett, President of the Jones County Board of Supervisors, Michael Mandich, President and Managing Partner of Cold-Link Logistics, and Governor Tate Reeves, among others.

The company says their new state-of-the-art food-grade warehouse will revolutionize the region’s food supply chain and cater to the escalating demand for frozen and refrigerated storage. With an anticipated opening date in July 2024, the facility will also generate 84 jobs in Jones County.

The Mississippi facility will be their third new warehouse to come to fruition in just two years. The others are located in Holland, Michigan in 2022 and Sioux City, Iowa in 2023.

Jenkins named new Airport Director at Stennis

Austin Jenkins has been named the new Airport Director for Stennis International Airport in Hancock County. Jenkins will start with the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission on July 31, 2023.

Austin Jenkins

“After conducting a regional search, we are ecstatic to add a professional like Austin to our team at HCPHC. We believe his passion for Mississippi and his aviation experience with operations, emerging technology, traffic control towers and capital programs will provide immediate value to Stennis International Airport,” said Blaine LaFontaine, CEO of HCPHC, in a statement.

Jenkins previously served as Airport Operations Manager with the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority (JMAA) where he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the FAA 139 commercial service airport (JAN), as well as Hawkins Field (HKS). In this role, Jenkins was the direct liaison to the FAA and TSA, in addition to internal and external stakeholders, including emergency management oversight.

A new executive committee, two at-large board members, and a directors’ representative have been elected to the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) Board of Directors to lead the efforts of the statewide community and economic development organization for 2023-2024.

Dorsey elected Mississippi Main Street Board President

Marlo Dorsey of Hattiesburg has been elected to serve as MMSA board president for 2023-2024.

Marlo Dorsey

“Mississippi Main Street has been a driving force in the economic recovery and future vitality of our state coming out of the pandemic, and I am thrilled to work alongside the many leaders, directors, and communities who champion our small businesses and our downtowns’ quality of place,” said Dorsey in a statement announcing her new role. “We all have an incredible opportunity before us to write the next chapter of our state’s history by being a part of meaningful growth and revitalization that will bring lasting value to our communities.” 

Dorsey is the Executive Director of Visit Hattiesburg. She also serves on the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association executive committee, serving on both the design and economic vitality committees. She is past president of the Mississippi Tourism Association, advocacy chair for the Mississippi Destination Marketing Organization, and serves on the dedicated funding advisory board for Visit Mississippi. In addition to board president, Dorsey serves as the advocacy chair for MMSA. 

Career Coaches in schools sees growth in second year

According to AccelerateMS, there will be more career coaches engaging with Mississippi high school students this fall to help them discover successful paths into the workforce.

Career Coach Mapping

Mississippi is working to connect students with industry leaders with over 50 new coaches throughout the state, increasing the total for the 2023-2024 academic year to 185 from just 20 coaches two years ago.

In all, coaches will be deployed in 78% of public high schools and 79% of the public school districts across the state.

AccelerateMS notes that the statewide initiative was funded in the 2022 legislative session with $8 million from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). In October, more than 100 coaches were hired and an additional $12 million of state general funds was appropriated in 2023 to help continue the growth of the program.

Hicks named Director of Visit Mississippi

Governor Tate Reeves has announced the appointment of Rochelle Hicks to lead Visit Mississippi as its new Director. She begins the new role on August 14th.

Rochelle Hicks

Former longtime Visit Mississippi Director Craig Ray left the position to pursue other opportunities.

Hicks brings 25 years of experience in the tourism industry to the role. She previously served as executive director of the Mississippi Tourism Association and as deputy director of the Ridgeland Tourism Commission. Most recently, she was director of advancement initiatives at Canopy Children’s Solutions.

Governor Reeves said Hick’s experience will be an asset in her new role.

“The tourism industry is strong in Mississippi. I’m confident that her decades of experience will be an incredible asset as we continue to grow our tourism industry and promote our state as a top destination for visitors,” Reeves said in a statement.

CSX names Port Bienville as 1 of 8 sites for new development across 7 states

CSX Railroad announced in July that Port Bienville Industrial Park (PBIP) on the Mississippi Coast has received a Bronze designation in their CSX Select Sites. PBIP was the only site selected in the State of Mississippi, among eight other sites across seven states.

The CSX Site Selection process is part of CSX’s new industrial development program to increase commerce and marketability for communities, with a Bronze, Silver, and Gold rating system.

According to the announcement, CSX gathered information from 60 different communities to identify possible locations for the Site Selection program, with the goal of the program being to connect expanding companies with rail service to increase commerce and logistics.

CSX partnered with Global Location Strategies (GLS) to evaluate individual sites to identify opportunities for enhancing their marketability.

Port Bienville Industrial Park has more than 3,600 acres of available property ready for development and is home to 14 diverse companies leading the way in their sectors.

Ingalls Shipbuilding completes acceptance trials for Coast Guard cutter Calhoun

Ingalls Shipbuilding recently announced the successful completion of acceptance sea trials for the U.S. Coast Guard‘s newest national security cutter, Calhoun (WMSL 759). According to Ingalls, during the trial, the ship spent time proving the ship’s systems including performing numerous tests in the areas of propulsion, electric plant, and mission systems.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Calhoun

“Our joint Ingalls and Coast Guard team has completed another successful sea trial, and I am pleased to say NSC 10 performed well,” Ingalls Shipbuilding President Kari Wilkinson said in a statement. “Our shipbuilders are now one step closer to delivering this highly capable and advanced cutter to the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Ingalls has delivered nine Legend-class national security cutters to the Coast Guard.

For over two decades, Ingalls Shipbuilding has designed and built the Coast Guard Legend-class national security cutters in Pascagoula. These ships are capable of embarking and supporting a wide range of Coast Guard, Navy and NATO missions. National security cutters have proven to be ideal platforms for drug interdiction, global illegal fishing, disaster relief and defense support operations.

NSC 10 is named to honor Charles L. Calhoun, the first master chief petty officer of the U.S. Coast Guard. Calhoun served in the U.S. Navy for three years during World War II and was honorably discharged in 1946 as a torpedoman’s mate petty officer 2nd class. He enlisted in the Coast Guard that same year and held varying positions of leadership over the course of his career.


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About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications such as the Daily Caller. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank:
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