Why advanced manufacturers want to call Mississippi home

Published 7:00 am Thursday, December 15, 2016

If you didn’t catch the episode of CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired on Dec. 4, you missed well-deserved national attention for Mississippi’s Golden Triangle.

The feature specifically highlighted the area’s successful economic development under the direction of Joe Max Higgins. With the arrival of advanced manufacturers like Steel Dynamics, Airbus, Yokohama, and Paccar, the Golden Triangle is seeing a major resurgence in jobs and investment.

The secret is out: Our state meets the needs of the world’s leading companies, offering a strategic geographic location, a skilled workforce, economic incentives, and a ready transportation infrastructure.

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Manufacturing comprises more than 12 percent of our state’s employment, and the Golden Triangle is not the only area breaking new ground. From the Gulf Coast to the Tennessee state line, Mississippi is playing an active role in America’s manufacturing comeback. According to a 2016 report by the Council on Competitiveness and auditing firm Deloitte, the United States is expected to surpass China and become the world’s most competitive manufacturing economy by 2020.

Creating Jobs Here at Home

An important national discussion is taking place about how to keep U.S. jobs from being moved overseas. Much of the attention has surrounded President-elect Trump’s recent success in working with Carrier to keep more than 1,000 jobs at its air conditioning and heating plant in Indiana instead of relocating them to Mexico.

Tax reform and relief from unjustified regulatory burdens can help create an environment

where U.S. companies do not find a reason to leave in the first place.

Building a thriving economy for all Americans was a topic I recently discussed in a meeting

with Wilbur Ross, who was nominated by President-elect Trump to be the next Secretary of Commerce.

As a member of the Senate’s Commerce Committee, I work directly on legislative policies affecting the Department of Commerce, which oversees a number of agencies dedicated to creating jobs, growing the economy, and keeping America competitive.

Building a Better Emergency Response Network

A major victory for Mississippi this year was the Commerce Department’s approval of a grant that promises to facilitate better emergency response services across our state. Our state’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant comes after years of negotiations involving my office, Sen. Cochran’s office, our state officials, and federal agencies.

Why is BTOP so important to our state? With this funding, Mississippi can build a strong communications network, equipping emergency responders with telemedicine resources to save lives. In other words, the best-trained physicians will be able to see patients on a monitor and assist the emergency medical personnel who are inside the ambulance.

These physicians will have medical information in real-time and can start care immediately, as the patient is being transported to the hospital. The University of Mississippi Medical Center is already a nationally recognized leader in telehealth and “TelEmergency.” Its work will be integral to the expansion of current technology to reach patients in some of our state’s most rural areas.

Our success with BTOP involved the help of current Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who worked with us to navigate the regulatory and administrative hurdles standing in the way of the finish line.

I look forward to working closely with the next Commerce Secretary, as well as other leaders in President-elect Trump’s Cabinet, to achieve even more successes for our state.

By U.S. Senator Roger Wicker