Be the Signal

Google COVID-19. I did, yesterday around 4 p.m., when I began to write this week’s update.

Highlights from the search were, “sudden strokes in young adults,” “pandemic updates,” and “testing sheds new light on outbreak.”

It was not sunshine and rainbows. It wasn’t even clouds and rain. It was more akin to the weather we’ve experienced here in Mississippi lately. Definite gloom, potential doom.


I Googled today to get some late inspiration for this piece. I’m a bit behind on schedule, because honestly, at the GTR LINK we’ve been swamped. Shockingly, economic development for our region has not slowed down. In the past week we’ve submitted an initial response on a $1 billion project, additional RFIs have gone out to projects totaling $750 million. Follow-up responses on a project projected at $250 million. We’ve confirmed two virtual site visits. Yesterday we met with Harvard Business School via Zoom and shared ideas and best practices with 50+ students taking a course, now online, called The Future of Work. We’ve connected with site selectors to discuss the current landscape and what we will see in coming years.

We are slammed with work, some COVID-19 related and some not.

Tomorrow we’ll host a call with all of our cities and counties together to discuss tax loss mitigation and find solutions to keep our communities afloat. We’ve communicated with our partners in Jackson about unemployment processing and worked with a local employer on plans to reopen their facility.


I tell you all this for two reasons:

1 – We heard a quote some time ago that said, “Be the signal, not the noise.” It resonated with us and we’re constantly trying to send out signals to our communities and their leaders to prepare for what is coming in days ahead.

2 – To be a little bit of light. Our work allows us the opportunity to view our community from what we refer to as, “30,000 feet.” We’re seeing movement in some sectors of business that aren’t slowing down. We know that while many businesses are shuttering their doors, others are on “hiring binges,” as we heard from an HBS professor this week. We get the opportunity to see recovery already beginning to happen.

Companies in transportation, automotive component manufacturing, healthcare manufacturing and the energy sector are moving forward with site locations. Immediate reshoring won’t happen quickly but there will be opportunity domestically, in rural areas just like ours, for facilities to relocate within the US in coming years.

We’ve sent out signals to those looking and those who might have projects on pause.


The Golden Triangle is ready. Our workforce and education providers are doing remarkable things adapting to the potential of long-term distance education in technical training. Our county and city governments are working to stem losses while also keeping their eyes on long-term growth.

Our infrastructure that has been built over the years is here, saving our region millions of dollars and valuable time when competing. These types of investments in a community move you the front of line.


I hope to bring you some tangible information next week, hopefully about unemployment assistance and local areas of support for the thousands who are without work right now.

Until then we’ll keep sending signals out, shining a light as brightly as we can on the Golden Triangle. 


Macaulay Whitaker, COO of the Golden Triangle Development LINK

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  • The workforce in Mississippi is exceptional. I’ve hired many veterans that worked in aviation during their military careers and moved back home to the Golden Triangle area. Airbus was able to use their skill sets and put them to work building multi-million dollar aircraft. The training that EMCC offers was so valuable to us, because they enabled our people to be trained in a variety of disciplines. This allowed for some of our people that had no aviation skills to be trained and hired as apprentices and grew our work force development program. People drive up to 75 miles to work for Airbus, demonstrating the work ethic and commitment of the men and women who live in Mississippi. We are very grateful for the caliber of people we are able to work with.

    Rob Boman

    Head of HR, Environment, Health & Safety

  • This is a very business friendly area and the LINK is an excellent resource staffed with very passionate people that also know their business extremely well and they’re creative. They understand the need for speed and necessity to minimize upfront costs of building or expanding a business. As a result, GTR LINK has been very successful in bringing good manufacturing jobs to the Golden Triangle Region.

    Madhu Ranade

    General Manager and Vice President at Steel Dynamics, Inc., Columbus Flat Roll Division

  • The Golden Triangle region has offered us a very energetic workforce with a great work ethic. There has been an abundant supply of laborers and skilled candidates, all willing to learn. Through various resources in the area we have always found what we needed and our employees are dedicated to the success of our plant.

    Ray Hamer

    Human Resources Director, Steel Dynamics, Inc., Columbus Flat Roll Division

  • The PACCAR Engine Company continues to enjoy great success in hiring, training, and keeping local talent. From Assembly Operators associates, Machining Operators, to Craft Technicians, we have experienced a positive and dedicated workforce willing to learn new skills. Attracting quality new associates has not been an issue with us, but we face the same nation-wide challenges in finding associates with skilled trades. We are pleased for the results we have achieved by locating our facilities here.

    Mike Arzamendi

    Communication & Training Manager

  • They’re [GTR LINK] very responsive to companies and their needs for getting questions answers and providing data and resources.

    Alan Easome

    Senior Director, New Plant Development, Yokohama Corporation of North America