Status Check

This week the GTR LINK hosted quarterly meetings with our membership group, The Trust. This is a group of managers, principals and CEOs from businesses across the region and state. These organizations cover areas of business including manufacturing, construction, banking and finance, real estate, restaurant and hotel, legal and more.

More than 75% of our membership dialed in, and we asked that they share an update with us about how things were going on their end. Of those that did, an overwhelming trend appeared: things are better than they thought.

Our restaurateurs we surprised that people’s dining habits had adapted to take-out so quickly, noting that while percentages were still dramatically down, they weren’t as low as predicted. One member said that sales went from 20% to nearly 60% last week. In-house dining opened this week, and should continue to boost sales but may not eclipse take-out.  

Those in the construction industry are largely working on current projects and have been able to keep their current staff employed. There are fewer projects in the pipeline, so there is concern about workloads decreasing the longer the effects of the pandemic are felt.

Manufacturers in our area are returning to work, with many of them taking extreme precautions to keep their employees safe. Some methods include PPE shields and masks, temperature scanning, routine cleaning and wipe-downs of equipment and facilities and even social distancing guards patrolling to help people remember how far apart six feet really is. Those on the call say they have orders to fill, but are anticipating a reduction in business in the coming months.

Banking members are serving their customers as best they can while navigating the changing nature of Payroll Protection Program loans and other support programs. According to information from one of our bankers, as of close of business on Friday, the combined numbers for Round 1 and Round 2 of PPP in Mississippi are 40,362 loans approved for a total of $3.189 billion. Mississippi banks have distributed the highest percentage of PPP relief to small businesses than any other state. Many of the businesses on the call have been able to secure these loans to keep staff employed.

Hotel occupancy was at 36% last week, according to one of our tourism industry members. Local hotels in the region are largely supported by business travel and MSU athletics. With temporary industrial closures and state travel bans across the country, that element has yet to rebound. Reports about athletics reopening are largely speculative at the time we were writing this, so we’ll have to wait and see how that element will be reintroduced in the COVID economy.

The transportation and trucking industry partners are seeing unexpectedly positive sales numbers, but service is down around 20 percent in some businesses. Similar to the manufacturing sector, current orders and contracts are keeping them busy but there are few opportunities coming down the pipe.

All of these partners are extremely important to our work and have been essential in keeping us updated on the economic health of our region. We’re certainly not out of the woods and we will all be recovering in one way or another for some time. Hopefully we’ll continue to see a trend of, “better than we thought.”

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  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 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

  • 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