This month, instead of focusing on just one topic, I want to touch on several. These are some facts about the accomplishments of the Panola Partnership over the past few years. The reason for this is, I think it is very important for us to keep our community informed about the many things that we do outside of just recruiting new industry.
This past year alone we applied for and were awarded $597,000 in various grants. These grants are very competitive and don’t come easy. You have to be able to fill out the grant forms accurately and professionally, you have to make the contacts with the institutions offering the grants, and you have to make sure the process stays on track. Grant writers normally get around 10% to 12% of the total of the grant for doing this. We do it as part of our job.
We are currently working with the Mississippi Polymer Institute at USM and South Panola High School to possibly establish a polymer science class as part of the school’s curriculum. This is a field of study that is growing and offers very high paying jobs to successful students. There are only a handful of high schools in the state that are currently conducting these classes and most of them are among the top rated schools in the state. We have a great administration at South Panola and through our combined efforts, we are working hard to take advantage of this great opportunity.
We just received notice that the grant we applied for to help with developing our new industrial park has officially been approved in the amount of $260,000. This will go a long way in helping us make the needed improvements that will put the park in a much more marketable condition.
And finally, to set the record straight. The Clarion-Ledger recently ran an article about new industrial locations and expansions in the state over the past 24 months. For some reason, only 15 counties were included. Panola County was not listed, therefore there were some in our community that felt like we had not seen any growth. But the truth is, we have seen significant growth. Cube Ice built their new facility within that timeline. The expansions that have taken place include: Toyoda Gosei, Anderson Technologies, Crown Beverage, Thermos, Serta, GE Aviation, INCA Presswood, Parker-Hannifin Corporation, and United Solutions. Most of these companies not only added investment, they added new jobs. These figures have been obtained and verified from the individual companies.
We were not the only county that was left off. Counties in our area like Lafayette County with the expansion of Winchester was not included. Tate County with a new location and an expansion was also not included and there were many more.
The fact is, we are doing pretty well and with hard work and vision for our future, we will continue to move our county forward. My hope is for the ones that are so quick to criticize will instead join us in our efforts.
(This original article appeared in The Panolian, June 2, 2015.)