Governor reaffirms commitment to educational equality to ensure Mississippi maintains a stable work force
By: Edwin Smith – Ole Miss News Desk
Praising the role of the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi in assisting aerospace manufacturing operations around Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant reaffirmed his commitment Tuesday to maintain and increase an educated work force for present and future employers.
“Mississippi is working for so many people in so many different ways,” Bryant said, speaking to approximately 100 people gathered at the CME. “In order to continue the state’s economic progress, we must have an educated work force.”
The governor’s remarks were the keynote address for the General Electric Aviation Suppliers Symposium, held at the center.
In July 2011, GE Aviation announced plans to invest $56 million on a new, 300,000-square-foot facility in Ellisville projected to create 250 new jobs within the next five years. The plant is expected to open in 2013. Then-Gov. Barbour joined GE Aviation President and CEO David Joyce at the announcement.
The new facility will join an existing Mississippi aviation factory – opened in Batesville in 2008 – in manufacturing advanced composite components for aircraft engines and systems. The Ellisville plant’s 250 new high-tech manufacturing jobs come on top of Batesville’s growing roster of 300 employees. GE Aviation expects to invest $150 million in the two locations by the end of the decade.
The company has more than 30 locations across the U.S and announced new engine and service orders for its joint venture companies totaling $27 billion at the Paris Air Show.
Stating that the stars are the limit, Bryant assured listeners he will do all within his power to make sure that Mississippi becomes known as the new, modern corridor for the aerospace industry.
“We’re raising the standards by tearing down those imaginary walls that separate classes according to their socio-economic backgrounds,” Bryant said. “We will get away from the idea that only the affluent are entitled to have access to a first-class education.”
The governor pointed to numerous kinds of manufacturers as evidence that “Mississippi Works,” which is the theme of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning and state Department of Education.
“Manufacturing excellence is something we do well,” Bryant said. “For generations, people have thought of Mississippi as being a good place for agriculture, furniture building, shipyards and, more recently, at least two major auto industries. With suppliers to GE and other aerospace-related industry, our global reputation is continuing to advance each year.”
Noting the role of UM’s CME, Bryant said research and development is key to keeping the state’s work force strong and viable in difficult economic times and beyond.
“The CME is a great tool for selling Mississippi to potential companies looking to expand their operations,” he said. “Because our program offers a full range of training opportunities from assembly lines to corporate executive, it also helps to keep future business leaders within the state.”
GE’s manufacturing operations in the U.S. have been on a roll lately, with advanced, R&D-driven techniques and processes, ground-up factory floor innovation and growing demand for exports fueling expansion in New York, Texas and Pennsylvania. In the last two years, GE has announced the creation of approximately 7,000 new high-tech manufacturing jobs.