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From Site Selection magazine, May 2024

Ready Upon Arrival

Diligent site development preparations bear fruitful project investment results throughout Mississippi.

Amazon Web Services marks Mississippi’s largest economic development project to date with a $10 billion data centers investment.
Photo courtesy of Amazon Web Services

by Alexis Elmore

illion-dollar projects don’t happen overnight. An investor’s site selection process, regardless of industry, depends on a carefully curated list of critical needs.  

Mississippi knows that corporate leaders aren’t thinking about potential. They’re looking for a shovel-ready site.

For seven years, the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) has invested millions of dollars into an extensive list of ready, premier and select site offerings through the Site Development Grant Program. The program’s rapid growth, which recently gained $993,250 in new funding, allows the state to ensure it has the sites and infrastructure in place to grab investors’ attention.

 In turn, the state is securing billions in new investment and creating thousands of jobs within burgeoning and established state industries.

Less than a week apart in January, the state announced the arrival of two blockbuster projects. A combined $11.9 billion investment from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and a fresh joint venture between Accelera, Daimler Trucks & Buses and PACCAR mark two of the largest economic development projects to ever hit Mississippi.

“These projects are highly competitive, and to win them requires substantial support through incentives, fast-track permitting, customized training and public investments in our industrial parks so we can provide adequate, shovel-ready sites,” says Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Bill Cork. “We tackle much of the behind-the-scenes work so companies can turn dirt and get to work in record time.”

Reach Your Audience

Arrival of two data center complexes just outside of capital city Jackson in Madison County may be the biggest capital investment splash Amazon has made in Mississippi, but it is hardly the first. Prior to the announcement of the $10 billion project, the company had invested $2.3 billion and created over 7,500 direct jobs in the state since 2010.

Throughout the state Amazon operates five fulfillment and sortation centers, four delivery stations, five solar farms, the state’s first utility-scale wind farm and a Whole Foods grocery delivery service. As the company’s subsidiary, AWS, was looking to expand its cloud computing capabilities in the Southeast, Mississippi arose as a natural fit.

“Where we locate our infrastructure is based on a combination of factors. We consider locations in terms of our ability to give customers low latency when running applications, the availability of renewable energy, and the local government’s long-term commitment to investing in technology infrastructure,” says AWS Director of Economic Development Roger Wehner. “The two sites selected near Jackson afford us compelling site solutions.”

AWS Worker

By 2027, AWS plans to begin operations at its 927-acre site at the Madison County Mega Site and the 786-acre Costa Site. Each of these data center complexes, located 20 minutes away from one another, will create 1,000 new jobs. This project will not only allow Mississippi businesses to run more smoothly and cost-effectively but provides an avenue for the state to cement its role in the IT & telecommunications industry.

“Mississippi now is a well-vetted and proven, cost-effective location for additional large data centers and tech investments,” says Cork. “We have a great pipeline of talent and the educational alignment in place to meet this growing demand, and the entire state, including the Jackson Metro area, is positioned to be the next tech hub of the South.”

AWS knows Mississippi has the talent to fulfill these roles now, but these investments were made with the future in mind. The company is looking to impact more than just 1,000 residents by extending investment into the next generation of talent coming through the state’s K-12 schools, community colleges and universities. The company will introduce an array of STEAM programs, training programs and workshops applicable to all ages.

“We’re thrilled about expanding into Mississippi because it gives us the ability to get closer to more customers to provide a more extensive global footprint and continue to expand our infrastructure,” says Wehner. “This provides an incredible opportunity to build infrastructure that our customers need, but also to work hand-in-hand with people in Mississippi to tap into a burgeoning tech sector, create new, well-paying jobs, and to help build a new pipeline of talent through new workforce development opportunities.”

Future Focused

Mississippi’s roots in the automotive industry run deep, supporting a workforce of over 15,000 and more than 200 companies. Everything from manufacturing auto parts to producing full-blown vehicles has been conducted in the state for generations and has brought industry leaders like Toyota, Nissan and Continental Tires.

For over a decade, commercial truck manufacturer PACCAR has produced diesel engines from Lowndes County. As the push for sustainability prevails, PACCAR and Nissan are major players leading Mississippi into its EV era.

Every day thousands of commercial trucks hit the road, traveling hundreds to thousands of miles to transport goods while also delivering a hefty amount of carbon emissions. For an industry that never slows down, innovation must take precedence.

The planned $1.9 billion advanced battery cell manufacturing facility from Accelera, Daimler Truck and PACCAR will be located in Marshall County’s Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park. Establishing this 21-gigawatt-hour plant aims to localize battery cell production while strengthening the U.S. domestic supply chain. Battery cells produced here will be used primarily for electric commercial vehicles. The project serves as a stepping stone for the JV to explore ways in which clean technology can change the way the nation drives forward.

With 2,000 new jobs created from this investment, in addition to Nissan’s $500 million expansion for EV production starting in 2025, Mississippi supports the ecosystem and workforce automakers trust with their EV futures. The state’s robust automotive workforce already has been transitioning their skillsets to lead the charge with the same ease one feels when stepping on an EV’s accelerator.

“Mississippi is the country’s next great success story, and as global industry leaders increasingly recognize we are a top state for business, continued investment in our automotive sector is inevitable,” says Cork. 

Alexis Elmore
Associate Editor of Site Selection magazine

Alexis Elmore

Alexis Elmore joined Conway Data in 2022 as associate editor for Site Selection. A 2021 graduate of the University of Georgia, she studied journalism and communications before moving back to Atlanta to pursue her career. As an editor for Site Selection and contributor to Conway's Custom Content guides, she writes about economic development efforts and corporate growth happening around the globe.


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