Kemper Aims Higher

Kemper County officially welcomed the opening of a fifth new company in just over two years, at a ribboncutting Monday, attended by the governor.

Pharma Pac makes national brand pharmaceutical products, such as creams and lotions.

Company officials say several things led them to locate in Kemper County.

"Primarily because of the assistance we've gotten, we were able to receive a fair number of grants and employment credits to locate here and also there were the existing facilities," said Joe Donovan, chief financial officer for Pharma Pac.

Four years ago, according to the Kemper County Economic Development Authority, the majority of the county's 12 industrial buildings were empty. That's now not the case, with Pharma Pac filling the last vacancy.

As Kemper County prepares for continued growth, officials say they have a strategic plan for attracting businesses.

"Clearly the way you pull the incentives package is critical, but the workforce is also very important and we've long had a good workforce here," said Mike McGrevey, executive director for KEDA.

McGrevey says teamwork on the state and local levels is also very important.

Officials with Pharma Pac say they are now conducting talks on financing to expand the company over the next two years. They say this will bring in even more than 220 jobs already promised. Pharma Pac currently employs 23 people.

Aside from this, local business development officials say they will have another big announcement next month.

Gov. Musgrove and his opponent Haley Barbour have conflicting numbers on jobs gained and lost during the last four years.

Musgrove Monday defended his record by saying losses in Mississippi were caused by what he calls "flawed" national policies such as NAFTA.

Musgrove went on to say that, aside from the job losses over the last four years, the state has gained an additional 56,000 jobs.

"In America since 2000, more than 3 million manufacturing jobs have been lost. But just last week the Bush administration said Mississippi was one of only two states in the southeast region that had a net gain of jobs this past year. So, to me that says we're on the right track and path and our investment in top quality schools is making the difference,"
said Musgrove.