The Mississippi Manufacturers Association has announced the expansion of the fellowship with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
Governor Phil Bryant spoke to the importance of a partnership such as the one between MMA and MEP at the organization’s press conference at Nissan Monday.
“This collaborative effort is essential to the future of manufacturing, which is the backbone,” said Gov. Bryant. “In Mississippi, we make things.”
Gov. Bryant credits the partnership for playing a part in bringing the state’s unemployment numbers down to the lowest in Mississippi history at 4.9%.
“This partnership is helping those who were ill-prepared to find a job, especially in the world of advanced manufacturing we know in Mississippi,” said Bryant.
Mary Isbister, MEP Board member from Washington, said there’s something about Mississippi that makes the manufacturing landscape unique.
“While you have manufacturing in all 82 counties, it is not evenly distributed. We’re going to work on that,” said Isbister. “But here, they say you don’t complain. You work with what you’ve got.”
Isbister spoke to what MEP brings to Mississippi.
“We provide training, we provide services… and we’re responding to the demands we’re seeing on a global scale, but for our smaller manufacturers,” said Isbister.
MEP has awarded $200,000 in grants to MMA to go towards workforce development. Last year, MEP Centers interacted with 25,445 manufacturers, leading to $9.3 billion in sales, $1.4 billion in cost savings, $3.5 billion in new client investments, and helped create and retain more than 86,602 jobs nationwide.
In Mississippi, MEP has not only offered grants, but has helped struggling factories get back on their feet.
“At our Cooper Tire facility in Clarksdale, we were closed to closing,” said Albert McShan. “After MEP, that 50 person plant that was about to close is now feasible, and has over 130 employees.”
MEP has also contributed to workforce training programs that have been implemented at many of Mississippi’s community college campuses.