Jackson: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Known as the "Best of the New South," Jackson is a major business force in Mississippi. Its diversity of business and industry and its position as the state capital help insulate the metropolitan area from the economic downturns experienced by other cities. Jackson's success in drawing high-paying industrial operations is attributed to the city's combination of an attractive labor pool and a good quality of life.

The Jackson metropolitan area is home to 16 banks, 4 of which are headquartered in the city of Jackson: Consumer National Bank, First American Bank, First Commercial Bank, and Trustmark National Bank. Agriculture commodities represent a $180 million business in the tri-county area. Cattle is the primary commodity in Hinds County, though other commodities important to the region are cotton, grains, poultry, and timber. Government jobs, ranging from municipal to federal, employ approximately 40,000 residents of metropolitan Jackson. Manufacturing remains an important economic sector, with nearly 500 manufacturers present in the area. Construction, distribution and trade, health care, retail, telecommunications, and travel and tourism are also vital to the local economy.

One of the most promising sectors for Jackson is the automobile industry. For years, city officials had worked to lure automotive manufacturers to the area by highlighting its assets, namely the availability of large parcels of land, a well-developed energy and utility infrastructure, and low industrial expenses. Nissan Motor Co. responded to their efforts, and in 2003 produced the first truck in Jackson's new, $930 million automobile plant. This investment by Nissan helped offset the downturn the Jackson area had incurred with the bankruptcy of WorldCom Inc., whose headquarters were in nearby Clinton, Mississippi, as well as the losses it faced in 2004 when Tyson Foods Inc. announced the closing of its Jackson processing plant, which cut about 900 jobs.

Items and goods produced: automobiles and related automotive components, fabricated metals, electrical and electronic equipment, food products, apparel, wood products, furniture, transportation equipment, rubber and plastic products, portable electric tools, welded steel tubing, aircraft parts

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Local programs

MetroJackson Economic Development Alliance (MEDA), an alliance consisting of the City of Jackson, Entergy Mississippi Inc., Jackson Municipal Airport Authority, MetroJackson Chamber of Commerce, and Hinds and Rankin county economic development organizations, markets and promotes the metropolitan Jackson area and encourages economic development through the expansions of existing businesses and industries and locations. Incentives for new businesses locating in the metropolitan Jackson area include low taxes, high quality labor, training programs, and tax credits for companies who create new jobs and provide basic skills for training and/or childcare. The City of Jackson Storefront Improvement Program offers grants for exterior structural improvements to businesses located in designated areas of the city.

State programs

The Advantage Mississippi Program was created by lawmakers in 2000 to attract businesses by improving the state's infrastructure and upgrading incentive packages. The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), through the Financial Resources Division, administers a variety of incentive programs to assist businesses in development and expansion. For large projects, a primary financial incentive is the Major Economic Impact Authority, which allows the state to issue general obligation bonds to secure up to $300 million for development. Other financial incentive programs administered by the MDA are the Rural Economic Development Assistance Program, Industrial Development Revenue Bond Program, Agribusiness Enterprise Loan, Business Investment Act Program, Energy Investment Program, Guaranty Loan Program, Minority Business Enterprise Loan, Minority Surety Bond Guaranty Program, Small Business Assistance Program, and Small Enterprise Development Finance Program. Additionally, in an effort to attract national and regional headquarters to Mississippi, the state offers income tax credits for each new job created and sales tax exemptions on construction materials and equipment used to build the new facility. A tax credit program is offered through the Mississippi Department of Archives & History for the restoration of buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places or designated as Mississippi Landmarks.

Job training programs

The state of Mississippi provides custom-designed pre-employment training, post-employment training, and upgrade/retraining services for new, expanding, or existing industries. The Employment Training Division of the Mississippi Development Authority administers the Workforce Investment Network (WIN). This network, the state's response to the federal Workforce Investment Act, combines federal, state, and community workforce resources to provide employment and training services to Mississippi employers and job seekers. WIN Job Centers, located throughout the state, provide access to employment, education, training, and economic development services. Other WIN services for employers include a database of qualified job candidates, assistance in writing job descriptions, proficiency testing, labor market data, and information on work opportunity tax credits. The Mississippi Contract Procurement Center provides information about bid opportunities from federal, state, and local government agencies; it also offers training, marketing assistance, technical support, and counseling. The Workforce Development Center of Hinds Community College provides industry-specific training, as well as additional educational courses and career exploration services.

Development Projects

By far, the largest development project of the early 2000s was the new Nissan Motor Co. truck plant. The $930 million facility created 3,300 new jobs and has the capacity of producing 250,000 vehicles each year, the first of which rolled off the line in the spring of 2003. This factory, in turn, attracted suppliers and other support services to the area. In 2003 just over 100 new facilities were announced in the metropolitan Jackson area, with a total capital investment of $435.6 million and the creation of 2,065 jobs. The city is actively pursuing the restoration of Farish Street, a formerly vibrant business district, into an entertainment center. The historic King Edward Hotel, vacant since 1967, has been entertaining bids from potential redevelopers who are considering turning it into apartments and office space.

The new TelCom Center and the Capital City Convention Center were under construction and in the final planning stages, respectively, in early 2005. The Capital City Convention Center will sit adjacent to, and connect with, the new Mississippi TelCom Center, a 74,000 square foot conference center that is scheduled to open in 2005. Together, the two centers will act as a complex offering a variety of options for meetings and events. The Capital City Convention Center, with more than 240,000 square feet, is expected to be completed by 2009 at an estimated total cost of $61 million.

Economic Development Information: Hinds County Economic Development District, 909 N. President St., PO Box 248, Jackson, MS 39205; telephone (601)353-6056; email exedir@hcedd.com. MetroJackson Economic Development Alliance, PO Box 3318, Jackson, MS 39207-3318; toll-free 800-566-5267; fax (601)352-5539; email info@metrojacksoneda.com.

Commercial Shipping

Equidistant from Memphis to the North, New Orleans to the south, Atlanta to the east, and Dallas to the west, Jackson is advantageously positioned to serve the South's distribution needs. A transportation network of major carriers, regional airlines, major trucking lines, and rail lines operated by the Canadian National Railway and the Kansas City Southern Railway Co. assures Jackson's position as a vital provider of the nation's freight service. The Jackson Municipal Airport Authority operates Jackson-Evers International Airport (JIA) and Hawkins Field, both of which handle considerable freight activity. JIA is the site of Foreign Trade Zone #158, where foreign goods bound for international destinations can be temporarily stored without incurring an import duty, as well as the Mississippi Air Cargo Logistics Center. The nearest full-service port is the Port of Vicksburg, located on the Mississippi River 45 miles west of Jackson.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Industrial leaders credit the metropolitan Jackson work force with a demonstrated willingness to adapt to rapidly changing technologies. High profit margins result from hourly manufacturing wages that are lower than the national average. Office space is inexpensive and abundant, and business operating expenses in Jackson are among the lowest in the nation.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Jackson metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 232.6

Number of workers employed in . . .

natural resources and mining: 700

construction: 11,400

manufacturing: 17,900

trade, transportation and utilities: 48,500

information: 5,700

financial activities: 15,900

professional and business services: 25,800

educational and health services: 28,300

leisure and hospitality: 19,600

other services: 8,600

government: 50,300

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14.07

Unemployment rate: 4.2% (December 2004)

Jackson: Economy

Largest employers Number of employees
State of Mississippi 31,556
University of Mississippi Medical Center 7,200
United States Government 5,500
Jackson Public School District 4,500
Nissan North America Inc. 4,000
Baptist Health Systems 2,700
St. Dominic Health Services 2,600
Mississippi State Hospital 2,500
City of Jackson 2,400
Rankin County School District 2,000

Cost of Living

According to the December 2003 issue of SmartMoney magazine, Jackson was the nation's most underpriced housing market, with an undervalue of approximately 10 percent.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Jackson area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $215,368

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 92.8 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 3.0% to 5.0%

State sales tax rate: 7.0%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 1% on hotels and restaurants

Property tax rate: 169.14 mills

Economic Information: MetroJackson Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 22548, Jackson, MS 39225-2548; telephone (601)948-7575; fax (601)352-5539; email contact@metrochamber.com