From Mississippi Development Guide 2021

Engineering a Better Workforce

Armored truck firm partners with MSU to access top-notch talent.

Higher Education
Ken Russell & Teresa Hubbard of CITE Armored, Inc.
Courtesy of CITE Armored Inc.


What do an armored vehicle and a state university have in common?

A lot more than you may think.

In the case of the vehicles being built by CITE Armored in Holly Springs and Batesville, Mississippi, the engineering behind many of the company’s products comes directly from Mississippi State University in Starkville.

That’s because CITE has an innovative partnership with MSU that enables the firm to tap into the talent and expertise of MSU engineering students and graduates and keep a steady pipeline of new employees at the ready.

Alcorn State

Alcorn State ChapelAlcorn State University
Courtesy of Alcorn State University

“We are very thankful for our partnership with Mississippi State,” says Ken Russell, co-founder and senior vice president of operations for CITE. “We hire their engineering graduates, and we are always working with MSU to make sure we get the talent and work experience we need.”

CITE recently increased its presence in Mississippi by locating van production operations in Batesville. The company is investing $2.3 million and adding 30 new positions as part of this expansion to a new site.

“CITE is excited to be opening our second location in Batesville,” said Teresa Hubbard, owner, co-founder and CEO of CITE. “We feel confident that Batesville will provide a strong strategic advantage in fulfilling our customer needs. Thank you to all those who have made this transition efficient and seamless.”

CITE qualifies for the Advantage Jobs Rebate Program, which provides a rebate to eligible businesses that create new jobs and pay more than the average annual wage for the state and county. The expansion project also received assistance from Panola County, the city of Batesville, the Panola Partnership and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

“We are very thankful for our partnership with Mississippi State. We hire their engineering graduates, and we are always working with MSU to make sure we get the talent and work experience we need.”
— Ken Russell, Co-Founder and SVP of Operations, CITE Armored

All around the state, innovative partnerships like this between employers and colleges are facilitating business expansion and job growth.

At The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, there is even a center devoted to facilitating business growth. It is called the Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship. The center serves as a catalyst for a university-wide focus on economic development training and research serving public entities, nonprofit organizations, businesses and individuals. Among other services, the center provides client-requested assistance and offers expertise in strategic planning and leadership development, education and training, community analysis and research and other technical support.

The Trent Lott Center also works with various companies and organizations to plan and implement activities designed to generate jobs and income using data-driven economic development.

The Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi in Oxford is focused on preparing the next generation of leaders in manufacturing. On the center’s 12,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing floor, students turn their ideas into tangible products, using more than 70 pieces of manufacturing equipment. The average job placement rate for these graduates is 100%.

Hinds Community College, the largest community college in the state, is a major player in workforce development and training. With a main campus in Raymond and branch campuses in Jackson and Vicksburg, HCC boasts an enrollment of over 12,000 students on six campuses.

Ron Starner
Executive Vice President of Conway, Inc.

Ron Starner

Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Data, Inc. He has been with Conway Data for 22 years and serves as a writer and editor for both Site Selection and the company's Custom Content publishing division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.


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