Jan 2, 2023

by: Ross Reily, Mississippi Clarion Ledger

After a stellar economic development year of 2022, the Madison County Economic Development Authority is looking to build on its successes in 2023.

As of now, MCEDA is working on eight projects that could be announced by the end of 2023. Two of those may make a decision during the first quarter of 2023, according to MCEDA executive director Joey Deason.

"Last year, we had the privilege of winning nine projects," Deason said. "The total investment that was committed was $585 billion, the majority of which was Nissan which has been a strong corporate partner for the last 20 years.

Of the projects that were brought in last year, they created 413 jobs and the average wage for those jobs was $62,500 per year. In perspective, the average wage for Madison County as a whole is about $47,000.

"Last year was a really, really good year," he said.

The estimated revenue from that corporate investment is about $4.1 million. That will be recurring revenue once these projects are up and running and on the tax books going to Madison County.

Looking to 2023, the eight projects MCEDA is working, should all choose Mississippi, would total $6.9 billion in investment and would be a total of 7,600 jobs. Deason said the projects cover a variety of industries and jobs.

Deason says he believes the economic atmosphere throughout the nation involving interest rates and inflation could ease during 2023, which would make companies more apt to invest in the near future.

"I am already beginning to see some of that occur and I have been seeing it for the last three or so months," Deason said. "But I think we are really going to feel it through the next part of this year. I am not an economist and I am not an expert, but my hope is that by the end of this year into the fourth quarter, the feds will ease off the interest rates and we will start the economy back up and running."

Of the eight projects MCEDA is actively pursuing, with $6.9 billion on the line, two of those, are actually in the last stages. as they compete with other states.

"My hope for those two projects, which is $181 million investment and 450 jobs between the two of them, I am looking at these two projects which will be making their decisions within the next quarter or so, that they are looking to the future, believing that if they start their construction now, by the time we get into 2024, the gas pedal will be back on the economy," Deason said. "We are optimistically excited about next year. Madison County is in a good position. There is a larger project that we have been working on for the last four or five years that we continue to recruit as well. Some of these, just take time."

On the two, MCEDA hopes to have a decision on soon, one it has been working on for a year and a half. The other is about eight months, which is rather quickly for most projects, Deason points out. One is ready to start construction somewhere within the first quarter of 2023.

"I think we are in a good position for both of those projects," he said.

Deason wouldn't respond to questions about Nissan, but when when Nissan announced it is investing $500 million to transform the Canton Assembly Plant to build the company’s new electric vehicle line with production beginning in 2025, it's chief operating office Ashwani Gupta said batteries for the new electric vehicles and others will be assembled in Canton at some point in the future.

Most all other car plants that have converted to EVs have had a battery facility locate near them. Envision is the former battery unit and now partner with Nissan in England and does batteries in Smyrna, Tennessee. But to this point, there has not been a battery partner selected for Canton.

Another big win for MCEDA in 2022 was Amazon. After years of work, an open field in Canton completed its transformation in August into Mississippi's first robotic sorting center that could one day employ upwards of 1,500 people.

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