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Growth of aerospace industry a win for...

Growth of aerospace industry a win for Mississippi

By: Clifton Carroll - March 12, 2024

Clifton Carroll

  • Mississippi is enjoying historic economic success, but we’ve got to keep our foot on the gas pedal.

In a short amount of time, Mississippi has made tremendous progress in improving workforce outcomes, attracting new and expanding businesses, and growing our state’s economy. Efforts to create a more business-friendly climate from Governor Tate Reeves, legislative leadership, and our congressional delegation have led companies large and small to increasingly invest jobs and capital in Mississippi. The aerospace industry in particular is one that stands out as poised to take advantage of Mississippi’s rapidly improving economic and workforce outlook.

One of the most effective moves our leaders have made to make our state more attractive to businesses was to overhaul our state’s workforce development system with the creation of AccelerateMS. Over the last few years, AccelerateMS has worked with training providers across the state to shift focus and resources to increase training for high-demand occupations in growing industries. 

Last year, Governor Reeves and AccelerateMS announced a $3.5M investment in Northwest Community College’s new, state-of-the-art Concourse Workforce Training Center in Batesville. This is a great example of state and local partners working together to effectively respond to industry needs. The facility is already producing more skilled workers, which helps make Mississippi competitive in attracting companies in highly technical industries like aerospace that offer good career opportunities with above-average wages. 

Elected officials have worked hard for years to make smart decisions to help the state bring in more capital and job investments. Our leaders have ensured that the Magnolia State’s corporate tax rate is low, making us even more competitive with other states. They’ve expanded incentive programs, like the Aerospace Initiative Incentives Program, to attract manufacturers here. These programs reward companies that locate or expand in the state and manufacture or assemble components for the aerospace industry or provide research, development, or training services for the sector.

These decisions, some made many years ago, are producing significant results today. Most recently, Skydweller Aero announced a $55 million investment in Mississippi that will create at least three dozen jobs supporting the development of solar-powered aircraft. 

Skydweller operations will occur at Stennis International Airport, just a stone’s throw from Stennis Space Center—NASA’s largest rocket propulsion test site. Stennis provides opportunities for public and private research capabilities to create the next generation of air and space travel. The center has attracted global talent enriching Mississippi and the rest of the country and creating over 5,000 jobs alone in this location.

Mississippi is also home to top-tier aerospace programs like Mississippi State University’s (MSU) Aerospace Engineering Program, MSU’s Raspet Flight Research Laboratory (RFRL), and the Aero-acoustics program at Ole Miss. Both academic institutions can provide students with the tools they need to be successful and, in turn, provide the aerospace industry with an educated workforce to fill their ranks. Boeing opened an entire center devoted to stitched composites at MSU. Just down the road, the RFRL provided incubator space to Boeing subsidiary, Aurora Flight Sciences.

Increasing the skilled workforce in our state is a top priority for the public sector, private companies, and non-profits like the Skills Foundation of Mississippi, which is working to raise awareness for these training opportunities among students, parents, and teachers. The growth of the aerospace industry in Mississippi is a prime example of what can be achieved when public and private organizations put their full weight and energy into workforce and economic development.

Mississippi is enjoying historic economic success, but we’ve got to keep our foot on the gas pedal. It’s imperative for the continued growth of our state that we work toward continued expansion of the industry and take the lessons learned and apply them to attract other sectors of the economy. If we can do that, Mississippi’s economy will truly soar.

About the Author(s)
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Clifton Carroll

Clifton Carroll is executive director of The Skills Foundation of Mississippi, a non-profit focused on increasing the skilled workforce in Mississippi by working with private industry, communities, and state leaders for true public-private partnerships to grow the pipeline of skilled workers for the next generation of Mississippians.
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