Mississippi Development Authority Director Glenn McCullough, left, visits with Columbus Rotary Club member Tango Moore after speaking at the club's meeting at Lion Hills Center on Tuesday. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
June 14, 2017 11:17:30 AM
Economic development takes leadership, and the Golden Triangle is a prime example of that, according to Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Glenn McCullough.
McCullough spoke to the Columbus Rotary Club on Tuesday at the Lion Hills Center, noting MDA is working to help build a more competitive Mississippi that can more easily attract businesses and large industrial developments.
He praised recent developments in the region, such as the Steel Dynamic's recently-completed $100 million paint line and Plum Creek's $825,000 investment in West Point to move to a larger facility. McCullough also lauded Yokohama Tire Corporation in West Point as another success of industrial development in the state, along with the Toyota plant in Blue Springs and Nissan in Canton.
The Golden Triangle, McCullough said, is an example of what can happen when communities work together.
"When it comes to economic development -- when it comes to community development and leadership, we are all on the same team," McCullough said. "We are not big enough to fight when it comes to building our communities. We, as leaders, need to look across the state of Mississippi and see the state of Mississippi not just compete, but win. You've been doing that."
McCullough also spoke about workforce training, which he said is vital to the state's continued economic growth. The state has committed $50 million toward workforce development, he said, adding that Mississippi's community college system plays a crucial role in workforce training. He pointed specifically to the planned Communiversity -- a workforce training center currently under construction near PACCAR on Highway 82 in Lowndes County -- as an example of the region's leadership on the issue.
"You'll have a facility and some people at the Communiversity that will give the Golden Triangle something no other part of the Southeast has," he said. "...It is so important --Mississippi needs to make sure that people understand around the world (that if) you want to produce a product or service in Mississippi, our people are the best."
Still, Mississippi has advantages for drawing economic development, McCullough said. He said the state is a top-10 state for business costs, permitting speed, competitive labor costs, automotive manufacturing strength and other categories.
At one point, a Rotarian asked McCullough how the state can compete with other Southern states, such as Alabama, Louisiana or Tennessee.
McCullough acknowledged Mississippi faces fierce competition from its neighbors, and often has to put forth a better effort than other states might have to because of perception issues. But, he said, the state can also levy its $1.45 billion tourism industry to help combat that.
"We've got to be better by two or three (times) than some of these other states you mention," McCullough said. "Sometimes Mississippi's perception is not want we want it to be, which is why tourism is so important."
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