ARC Partnership Leading to Economic Growth in Mississippi

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series of commentaries from governors of states comprising the Appalachian Regional Commission, an economic development agency for the region.

Mississippians are hardworking and constantly seeking opportunities to better themselves, their families, and their communities. That’s why on the day I was sworn in as the 65th Governor of Mississippi, I made a commitment to increase economic development, improve infrastructure, and invest in workforce training. One of my priorities has always been, and will always be, making Mississippi the best state in the nation to live, work, and raise a family.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has been a critical partner in helping to reach these goals and provides a unique partnership opportunity for Mississippi.

In 2020, Mississippi saw approximately $1.9 billion in capital investment, more than double the previous 10 year’s average of $900 million per year. Also in 2020, ARC invested $3.7 million, supported 19 projects, leveraged an additional $5.8 million in private investments, created or retained 1,160 jobs, and helped to train 225 students and workers in our state. Their impact has been huge.

As ARC moves forward with a new Strategic Plan, Mississippi is ready to double-down on securing better and higher-paying jobs, providing a trained workforce, securing property that is ready for private investment and job creation, and preparing communities within the Appalachian Region for growth.

My administration is working tirelessly to prepare Mississippians for the jobs of the next 50 years. Working with our community colleges and other partners, we are focusing on training the next generation of Mississippians so when they complete their college education, they will have access to a good paying job right here at home.

As a result of ARC funding, Northeast Mississippi Community College (NEMCC) was able to purchase medical equipment and supplies to outfit a hands-on training science laboratory located at NEMCC’s Ripley campus. The instructional equipment and supplies for the science lab will help NEMCC provide a cooperative learning environment for students, so they are better prepared for additional post-secondary education and/or high-technology careers in the medical and healthcare field. In addition to credit course offerings for students, this investment by ARC allows NEMCC to offer non-credit instruction to individuals seeking new skills for higher wages in the medical and healthcare sector, and to incumbent workers in the field seeking to enhance their skills and improve current job prospects and salary. Giving Mississippians the tools they need to earn higher wages and find better paying jobs is something I am honored to be a part of.

A state is only as successful as its workforce, which is why it is of the utmost importance that we invest in our people to ensure they are prepared to take on the jobs of the future.

In training our people and preparing our communities for growth, we must provide them with a reliable infrastructure to attract businesses and increase job opportunities. We can do this by providing communities the tools they need through infrastructure grants.

My administration and ARC are committed to better positioning communities for success and growth. In Marshall County using ARC funds, we’ve invested in water, sewer, and site improvements to assist in the creation of over 2,000 new jobs that paid over the average county salary.

My administration approved ARC funding that will allow Marshall County to rebuild a one-mile stretch of Barringer Road to support industrial growth in the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park. Two private industrial firms also have plans to build a total of 8 buildings on Barringer Road that are expected to employ 1,200 people.

These projects are just a few examples of how Mississippi’s partnerships with ARC allow communities to leverage their assets for growth and attract higher paying jobs.

The work done by my administration and ARC has helped create a multitude of new opportunities for hard-working Mississippians while also boosting the state’s economy. Despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19, we made incredible progress growing our economy, preparing our workforce, and taking the necessary steps to bring more jobs to Mississippi. I am incredibly proud of our partnership with ARC and our joint accomplishments.

When we invest in our people and our communities, Mississippi continues to become a premier destination for companies to invest, which means that Mississippi can and will compete with the best this nation has to offer.

Reeves is Governor of Mississippi.


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