FedEx Corporation, the Memphis-based transportation and e-commerce service that is the fourth-most valuable company in the world based on combined market capitalization, is set to join the I-59 Supply Chain Park with an upcoming 217,000-square-foot distribution facility that will create 200 new jobs in the area.
The announcement was made on Jan. 13 at the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport by members of the airport, the Forrest County Board of Supervisors and the Jones County Board of Supervisors. The $20 million facility, which will be located adjacent to Interstate 59 at the airport, will be the largest facility located in the I-59 Supply Chain Park, joining Ashley Furniture, NoTrax and Flowers Bakery.
“We think it’s the tip of the iceberg,” said Bill Ray, chairman of the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport Authority Board. “When I think back, I think our board has worked hard, but not without the two boards of supervisors that have said, ‘get it done.’
“That’s what it’s all about – that’s why all of us in this group serve in public capacities and boards. You’re not getting rich over it, but the point is to provide for those people that we live with every day in this Pine Belt area, and try to bring better jobs to the marketplace. We hope that’s what is going to happen here, but what we really hope is … the next one will be 200 jobs or 500 jobs, or whatever it happens to be that will enhance (the area).”
The project, which is made possible with the cooperation of the Forrest County Board of Supervisors, the Jones County Board of Supervisors, and the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport Authority Board, is supported by Cooperative Energy, Dixie Electric Power Association and Spire Energy. The Area Development Partnership and the Jones County Economic Development Authority serve as joint project leads for economic development in the I-59 Supply Chain Park.
“We’re so proud of the partnership that we have with Jones County; we appreciate the strong partnership,” said David Hogan, president of the Forrest County Board of Supervisors. “We’re working together, regionalism, to create quality jobs on behalf of the entire Pine Belt.
“FedEx, a Fortune 50 company, is a household name and is often listed as Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies. Thank you to FedEx executives and employees for having the confidence in our region to build this new facility.”
The upcoming facility is currently under construction along Superior Drive in the park and is expected to begin operations late this year. The facility will employ a mix of full- and part-time employees that will adjust with seasonal demand.
“I can’t express the feeling we have,” said Johnny Burnett, president of the Jones County Board of Supervisors. “We’ve got so many things that have caused this to happen. We’ve got colleges on both sides – Jones Junior College and (The University of) Southern (Mississippi).
“We’ve got some of the best high schools and grammar schools in the state in (Forrest and Jones) counties. Our colleagues in Hattiesburg and Forrest County, they have just been a tremendous help in supporting us and getting this thing going. This is going to be a lifeline for them and a lifeline to us, for our entire community.”
In coordination with the new project, officials also are upgrading water and sewer lines along Superior Drive.
“(That) will not only serve the new FedEx ground operation; it’ll better position us for future growth within the I-59 Supply Chain Park,” Hogan said. “Our region is growing one project at a time, and each new project positions us for the next one.
“Success breeds success. Embracing regionalism is joining a rising tide that lifts all boats.”