Economic Development Outlook

According to economic developers, more companies are exploring the option of locating within the Meridian area. With assistance from the Mississippi Development Authority, Wade Jones, who is president for the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation, says at least 15 companies are seriously considering the idea.

"On several of these projects we're one of the final communities being considered."

The more than a dozen projects that the EMBDC is currently working to land are all from seven different industries. Most of the projects are in manufacturing. This is followed by: the aerospace, automotive, biomass, chemical, large scale retail and existing industry sectors.

"Right now I'm 99% optimistic that we can get one of the projects," says Jones.

With a decision yet to be made, Jones says at this time he cannot elaborate on what industry that could be.

However, a report to the EMBDC board Wednesday revealed that the global company CertainTeed is preparing to reopen its plant in Meridian on June 14th of next year. In all, that company's $24 million investment is expected to create 128 new jobs.

Also, the EMBDC is taking more steps to attract a business to the facility which previously housed Handy Hardware.

"We're in contact with Capitol One, which owns the Handy bank," says Jones. "They will employ a nationally, if not globally recognized, real estate firm to market that building and once that's done in the first of October then we as a staff will likely hit the road and to go Atlanta, Dallas and Greenville, South Carolina where the consultants are located to share with them the information that we have on this 463,000 square foot building."

Of the 15 projects that the EMBDC is currently pursuing, four are in manufacturing; three are in the aerospace and automotive industries; two are in biomass and the remaining three are divided equally between the chemical, large scale retail and existing industry sectors.