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Old sites for new employers

Old sites for new employers
CCEDD’s Arthur Lee (Pokey) Evans and Brenda Harper.

When Arthur Lee (Pokey) Evans, Copiah County Economic Development District (CCEDD) executive director, sees the county’s unemployment rate is only 2.8 percent, it validates the way he approaches his job.


            “My number one priority is making sure all industrial properties -- land and buildings -- are being used, and I appreciate anything -- both and big and small employment opportunities,” he says.


            Last year, his efforts helped bring All Star Mill Works, a cabinetry and woodworking company operated by Bill and Kathy Price, to the facilities Sheldon Laboratory left several years ago.  “They are now building a business there and creating jobs in the process,” affirms Evans.


            On “what may seem like a small scale to some onlookers,” retail and fast food restaurants opened at several locations throughout Copiah County as well, Evans points out.  “Dollar General opened new stores at four places, providing convenience that eliminates travel for shoppers along with dozens of jobs in varied shifts for workers,” Evans says.


            Going into 2024, which is a Presidential election year and thus often a slow time for economic developers, he continues to work with a prospective employer which started looking at Copiah County locations last year, and is fielding a large number of inquiries from businesses interested in coming to the county that “make me optimistic that there are more good things to come in the weeks and months ahead.” An attractive unused location that could entice an employer is a former car dealership, Evans says.


At the same time, existing businesses remain a strong economic asset: Premier Transport, a regional distribution center; Sanderson Farms poultry hatchery and feed plant, Entergy, Mississippi’s primary electricity provider, DG Food poultry processing and foods, ABB, Inc., industrial controls and electrical transformers; Westlake Chemical chemical and vinyl manufacturing, Metaline Products, Inc., industrial metal fabrication, design, prototyping and finishing; CCI Industries, pipeline construction; Copiah Lumber Products, Inc., Fab-Tek Industry, McNeely Plastics, Jones Lumber Company, Steel Outdoors, residential and commercial metal fabrication and customize buildings.


            In the coming months, Evans says he expects to step on the marketing accelerator with funds from government and private business to fuel new outdoor advertising and digital and radio promotions to highlight the advantages of Copiah County for prospective employers.  In marketing Copiah County through personal one-on-one meetings, a website and expanding use of other media, the message emphasizes:  


  • A workforce that is willing and ready to serve employers thanks local schools and a community college that focus on preparing workers.  Career coaches, retired persons with workforce experience, counsel students in schools, introducing them to the business world through field trips and other activities, guiding them in making career decisions and identifying training opportunities, among other things.  Copiah-Lincoln Community College is a leader in workforce development with ongoing and specialized as-needed training for local companies and their employees.


  • A location near key markets with rail, interstate, air and nearby water access.


  • Government officials who understand business needs, provide incentives, and facilitate in locating offices buildings.


  • Available land and building that are well-priced.


Evans says CCEDD economic development work is a team effort and praises his office colleague Brenda Harper, the organization’s board and the Copiah County Supervisors for their support and assistance in telling the county’s story.


Contact Evans for information at 601-421-1249.



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