I graduated a Kindergartener this month. We did it by appointment only, with only five guests per family and all the pomp and circumstance social distancing would allow. I can only imagine what it felt like for those high school seniors, community college and university graduates. A celebration no less, but not exactly the sendoff you or your family imagined.

As we begin sending these graduates to their next phase of life, I’m sure we’ve all tried to impart some wisdom to them to help them navigate the world. Don’t skip class. Always remember to be safe. You can’t take naps in first grade.

In a way, we’ve all been to COVID-19 school over the last quarter, and we’re graduating now, venturing out into the world.

Restrictions are loosening. Businesses that have been closed since March like hair salons and casinos are among the latest sectors to be allowed to reopen. More people are out and about, with masks and gloves a more commonplace occurrence. With Memorial Day approaching Monday, undoubtedly beaches and lakes and rivers will see people needing a change of scenery.

Recommendations from both governmental and health care sources still advise wearing some element of personal protective equipment for all citizens and to practice decreased travel and exposure.

Many employers continue to call employees back to work, a vital step in moving our economy forward and out of this economic crisis. If you are able, and feel safe and secure doing so, returning to work is something you can do to boost the economy in a positive direction.

One of our partners in Jackson recently published some advice in a Back to Work Toolkit for Businesses. The chambers of commerce in Columbus, Starkville and West Point have all also provided their communities with tools and information like this as well. All of these are posted on our website under the COVID-19 Resources Page.

Some of the most reassuring sources of advice we’ve seen are area employers assisting each other.  HR managers have been sharing their experiences on conference calls. Companies who are hiring have reached out to other companies who have had layoffs, both working together to get people back to work. Companies have shared 3D printing files with educators to print PPE since shipping delays are turning into operating delays.

I was able to participate in a call with EMCC, MSU and our area manufacturers where a connection was offered with a company that manufactures athletic wearable technology. This company is now working on research with MSU for COVID-19 related wearable tech and an invitation for our employers to participate was extended.

We’ve heard of or witnessed these and many other examples of the employer network in the Golden Triangle connecting to provide resources. Regardless of the size or type, businesses everywhere continue to be faced with challenges adapting to maintain their livelihood.

States across the nation are implementing plans for reopening in various phases. Governor Reeves’ “Safer At Home,” executive order is set to expire on Monday, May 25. We’ll have to see what follow-up orders or advisements come from Jackson, but it’s safe to say we won’t just revert back to business-as-usual for some time.

Graduation can be exciting, and freedom even in the smallest form is tempting. There are tons of resources available to give you guidance and, perhaps, a sense of security about how to navigate our current environment safely. While sifting through all the information can be exhausting if you find some advice that keeps you safe, share it with your business peers and employees.

If you have some free time, rest safely this holiday weekend. You probably haven’t had a nap since Kindergarten.

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  • 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

  • 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

  • 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