Synergy between Entergy Mississippi, local communities and businesses is fueling revitalization and economic growth in the Magnolia State. Through a variety of one-of-a-kind initiatives, Entergy is helping communities in our service territory become more competitive, laying the groundwork for business location and expansion. For prospective businesses, Mississippi’s community preparedness means streamlined site readiness, industrial building enhancements, community vitality and a well-trained workforce.
“When a business considers a community to relocate or expand in, it’s truly a relationship and collaboration between the company, community and Entergy Mississippi,” says Ed Gardner, Director of Business & Economic Development, Entergy Mississippi. “We work with our communities and local businesses to not only ensure that the project will be successful, but that the community is able to attract talent and a great place to live, work and play.”
BENEFITS FOR NEW OR EXPANDING BUSINESSES
Mississippi offers many benefits for prospective companies, including a pro-business environment, essential infrastructure, abundant labor pool and competitive wage rates. According to Forbes’ Best States for Business list, the cost of doing business in Mississippi is 4 percent below the national average. In addition, the state offers easy access to six major interstates, five class 1 railroads and the Mississippi River (six ports are located within the Entergy Mississippi service territory). Mississippi is also within a day’s drive of more than 100 million people in the U.S., making it easy for businesses to deliver their products to customers.
Mississippi’s favorable tax structure contributes to the pro-business environment. Both corporate and personal income (taxable income over $10,000) are taxed at 5 percent, and businesses can take advantage of no state property tax or local income tax. There is no sales tax on electricity and fuels used in manufacturing or agriculture processes, which is especially beneficial for the state’s biggest industries. In addition, exemptions are available for inventory that is destined for shipment outside the state. Couple this tax climate with a low cost of living (Mississippi is continuously ranked as one of the least expensive states to live in), and it’s clear why so many businesses are calling Mississippi home.
COLLABORATION TO PREPARE COMMUNITIES
To accelerate economic growth, communities are collaborating with Entergy Mississippi to get the word out on the state’s many benefits to prospective businesses. One initiative spurring economic development is Entergy Mississippi’s Excellerator Competitive Communities Program. The program’s purpose is to make the communities in our 45-county service area more competitive. Through the Excellerator program, local economic development organizations compete for 50/50 matching grant opportunities to help create or improve marketing efforts, refurbish industrial sites and buildings, and develop strategic planning for their communities.
Since the Excellerator program’s inception in 2015, Entergy Mississippi has awarded more than $423,000 to communities in its service territory. These grants have helped communities pursue projects to make them more attractive to new or expanding businesses. The program’s focus on site readiness is perhaps the biggest advantage for site selection consultants and prospective businesses. Currently, 10 sites have been qualified through the program, allowing each site to meet the requirements and due diligence to earn Entergy’s designation as an Entergy Qualified Site. Our Qualified Site program provides the best possible condition for a location in all of the factors important to a prospect. This evaluation minimizes a prospective company’s risk and provides substantial cost savings. Qualified site requirements include:
“Site readiness has proven to be a significant benefit for counties participating in the program and for Entergy’s service area,” Gardner says. “Site qualification grants totaled nearly $300,000 in the five years since the program began. These funds have been leveraged with approximately $3.1 million in other funds, including Mississippi Development Authority Site Development grants, Delta Regional Authority States Economic Development Assistant Program (SEDAP) grants and others for a total impact of more than $3.5 million.”
INDUSTRIES INVESTING IN MISSISSIPPI
The Excellerator program has led to considerable business growth in the state, with 10,000 jobs and $2.9 billion capital investments. An increasing number of industries are putting down roots in Mississippi, including manufacturing, distribution and warehousing, automotive, wood processing, food and beverage and much more. Recent wins in the past year include:
“We’ve seen quite a few business expansions or relocations within the five-year range of the Excellerator program,” says Taurus Wright, Business Development Manager, Entergy Mississippi. “There is a wide gamut of industries located here, from automotive manufacturers to wood processing, because our service territory is so diverse.”
Mississippi’s transportation and warehousing industries continue to grow, and now accounts for some of the largest occupation groups in the state. In fact, nearly 120,000 workers are employed in these industries. Other industries thriving are in the production or manufacturing of agriculture, chemical, fertilizer, forestry and food and beverage.
GROWING THE TALENT PIPELINE
To ensure Mississippi’s workforce is prepared for this influx of industry, Entergy Mississippi is working with community leaders to grow their talent pipeline. Through Entergy Mississippi-sponsored ACT “bootcamps,” we help provide certification to county leaders to become ACT Work Ready communities. This ensures that communities have the resources necessary to close the skills gap through workforce development, ensuring they have a competitive edge. Since most ACT trainings are outside of the southeast, Entergy Mississippi paid to have training brought to the state to make it easy for participating communities. In total, 11 counties took advantage of the training to improve their workforce efforts.
“Our goal is to certify all 45 counties in our service territory,” says Christine Pate, Business Retention and Expansion Representative, Entergy Mississippi. “By training communities to become ACT Word Ready communities, we can grow the talent pipeline, ensuring businesses have the workforce they need to operate their facilities now and in the future.”
PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
Through these partnerships, Entergy Mississippi is on a mission to help local communities win economic development opportunities and prepare for future growth. Mississippi has all the right ingredients for business success, from low taxes and electricity costs to essential infrastructure and workforce. As your company begins looking for potential locations, you can be assured that expanding or relocating to the Magnolia State is a smart move.