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Pike County Economic Development District

Pitching Pike County

State development officials tour area, mark expansion

Matt Williamson - Enterprise Journal


Pike County is growing, and has the potential to do even better.

That was the message local officials were sending last week when they invited a delegation from the Mississippi Development Authority to tour the area.

About a dozen officials arrived in McComb by train Thursday afternoon, where they were greeted with a reception before boarding a tour bus. They visited industrial parks, Percy Quin State Park, downtown Summit and Southwest Mississippi Community College, then cut the ribbon on an expansion at Summit Plastics and wrapped up the night at Shuffle to the Chefs.

Pike County Economic Development District Executive Director Jill Busby organized the gathering, seeing an opportunity to showcase the county to the people whose vast amounts of grant money and role as the state’s economic development arm carry considerable influence in shaping the state.

Speaking before local officials at Summit Plastics, MDA Director Mickey Milligan gave a favorable review of what he had seen so far.

“Mayor, we came through your downtown area — beautiful,” he told Summit Mayor Percy Robinson. “Jill said all of your storefronts are occupied, so that’s quite an achievement.”

“I want to thank y’all for coming down to Pike County and coming to Summit, so you all can see what we have down here,” Robinson said.

Summit Plastics was a fitting place for the assembly.

The plant is undergoing a $3.3 million expansion that is expected to increase capacity and bring 30 additional jobs. Part of that includes more than $400,000 in infrastructure improvements, including bigger water lines and a new road leading to the plant, paid for by an MDA grant along with $15,000 from Summit and $35,000 from Pike County.

Plant owner Tom Nathan-son praised state and local officials for helping the expansion become a reality.

“We’ve grown our workforce. We’ve grown our business 25 percent in the past two years,” he said. “We’ve added jobs and those jobs are good-paying jobs. ... The Pike County Economic Development District, the Mississippi Development Authority grant was very instrumental in providing a lot of our growth.”

Nathanson said he has worked in 24 states during his career, and he gave Mississippi high ratings for its business climate.

“In the last two years at Summit Plastics, I came to the realization that Mississippi is the best state I’ve worked with from a partnership standpoint,” he said.

Receiving an enthusiastic response from the room, he said, “I didn’t plan on getting an applause for that.”

Nathanson noted that the plant’s employees have a good benefits package, with the company paying 75 percent of the tab.

“We give bonuses every 90 days to employees in the plant,” he said. “It legitimately is a Mississippi success story.”

Milligan noted the void of gigantic car plants and other megasites in Pike County compared to other parts of the state, but he stressed that while such facilities can be a boon, the growth of smaller businesses is just as significant.  

“These big plants get all of the publicity and announcements, but I can tell you it’s people like Summit Plastics and Tom’s operations here that are the lifeblood to our cities,” Milligan said.

Robinson echoed those sentiments.

“I would like to thank Mr. Nathanson for the job he has done since taking over Summit Plastics,” he said. “Not only is this plant a good plant to work at, I can’t think of any other employer around here that has the type of benefits that they have. He has great benefits for his employees.”

Nathanson said he has embraced what the area has to offer. He said he has a “great partnership” with Southwest Mississippi Community College, which helps train plant workers, and he uses Mississippi companies for banking and insurance.

Nathanson said he could grow his business by opening up other plants elsewhere, but that’s no longer on his mind.

“After my experience here, I would like to expand here rather than move out of state,” he said, adding that he hopes to keep growing and bring in about another 20 jobs in a couple of years.

Emphasizing the importance of the state agency, Robinson noted that Summit has been the beneficiary of many MDA grants and he hopes to see that continue.

If anything, he hammered the central message from local officials to the visitors from Jackson — that Pike County has potential and it’s just as good as anywhere else to set up shop.

“We’re glad to have you here, that you came down to see us,” Robinson told Milligan. “Like I said before, remember us when you go back.”



Plastics Plant Adding 30 Jobs

From Staff Reports - Enterprise Journal


A $3.3 million investment to expand production lines and the footprint of its buildings is bringing 30 additional jobs to Summit Plastics, Pike County Economic Development District officials announced Friday.

The plant on Highway 51 will now have a payroll of more than 80 people, according to Jill Busby, executive director of the economic development district.

Part of the expansion focused on infrastructure, including a new road leading to the plant. A Mississippi Development Authority grant with matching contributions from the Town of Summit and Pike County paid for that work.

Summit councilmen also plan to vote Tuesday on site plans for the construction of a new maintenance facility at the plant. They had earlier agreed to plans that would allow plant officials to install larger silos used to store plastic pellets.

Other aspects of the expansion have included new manufacturing lines, employee breakrooms, executive meeting rooms, additional office space and a new quality control lab.

Summit Plastics is looking into acquisitions that will expand the company even further, Busby said.

“I am thrilled with the partnership we have with the Town of Summit,” Summit Plastics President and CEO Tom Nathanson said in a news release. “The mayor and town council have been incredibly supportive and have been instrumental in helping us achieve our goal of making Summit Plastics a premium employer in the area.”

Summit Plastics has implemented bonuses for every employee that pay out every 90 days. Additionally, the company offers employees a comprehensive health and wellness program.

The company is using Southwest Mississippi Community College’s Workforce Development Center to train its employees.

“This process has been a great deal easier because of the dedication of our employees,” Nathanson said. “We have great people that work hard. I have had business ventures in many states and I’m very pleased with Mississippi’s one-of-a-kind workforce programs.”

Summit Plastics makes polyethylene film and bags, including bags on rolls, separated bags, centerfold bags, gusseted and flat bags, single-wound sheeting, perforated sheets, centerfold sheeting, tubing, center slit gusseted tubing, perforated sleeves and shrink bundling film, among other products.

The products are manufactured to various customer specifications, with a variety of color and printing options, as well as anti-static and insect repellant additives, and biodegradable and antimicrobial plastics.



Volunteers Needed For "REAL LIFE"


            The Pike County Chamber of Commerce will present the 4th Annual “Real Life” program on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 and Thursday, February 22, 2018, beginning at 8:00 A.M. and concluding at 2:30 P.M. This year’s event will take place at the Pike County Community Multi-Purpose Complex (Safe Room) located at 2017 Quinlivan Rd. in Magnolia, MS.


            The Pike County Chamber of Commerce Mississippi Scholars’ Committee will have the opportunity to present an overview of the Mississippi Scholars’ and Mississippi Tech Master programs, along with a “Real Life” experience to all of our Pike County 8th grade students.


            “The Mississippi Scholars Initiative is an education program managed by the Public Education Forum of Mississippi, which utilizes business leaders to motivate students to compete a rigorous course of study in high school. This course path gives students a boost – not just for college but for life. The initiative pairs trained local business leaders with classes of 8th grade students. These leaders present the students with a powerful presentation, which provides the rationale for the recommendation that students take more rigorous courses.”


            “The Mississippi Scholars’ Tech Master Program encourages students to pursue and perform well in a tech-prep course of study, recognizing their achievements at graduation, as the Mississippi Scholars program currently recognizes those who pursue a college-bound course of study, with a particular emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).”


            The “Real Life” program is a career exploration, decision making, and money management program originally developed by the University of Illinois Extension Service. Students will make consumer choices related to future independent living, learn skills needed to manage their finances, evaluate their success in managing their monthly income and expenses, and explore alternatives to balance a budget.


            Students will be given an occupation and corresponding monthly salary (based on their current grade point average in school) and advance through a series of booths to pay taxes, housing, utilities, transportation, and other monthly bills that we as adults pay. They will also be given a card of chance that represents some of the unexpected expenses and income often encountered in daily life. The booths will be run by local business professionals.


            The “Real Life” program is a good transition into the Mississippi Scholars’ presentation that focuses on the importance of making good grades and doing your best in school!


Would you be willing to volunteer your time to help us during one or more of the sessions?

Session Times:

Wednesday, February 21st      8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Wednesday, February 21st     12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Thursday, February 22nd        8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Thursday, February 22nd       12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.


There are a couple of ways you can help...


1. We need "Group Leaders" to guide a group of approximately ten 8th graders through the different booths as they make purchases and balance their ledgers. 


2. We need business professionals to help work the various booths that students will be visiting, such as HOUSING, TRANSPORTATION, UTILITIES, PHONE, INTERNET, GROCERIES, CLOTHING, DECK OF CHANCE, ENTERTAINMENT, and VACATION! We will provide all material needed! We just need you to smile, greet the students and answer any basic questions they may have.


Please check your schedules and let the Pike County Chamber know as soon as possible if you are willing to volunteer! You can email Shawn Lowery at slowery@pikeinfo.com or call the Chamber office at 601-684-2291. 


Thank you so much!



Busby Outlines Development Goals

Local Business Owners Will Bring the Biggest Impact

Matt Williamson - Enterprise Journal


Busby’s speech to the McComb Exchange Club covered a lot of topics, but perhaps the one that resonated the most is her belief that mega-factories sitting on mega-sites aren’t going to come in and save Pike County’s economy.

If anything, Pike Countians have more of a role in determining the area’s economic destiny.

Growing existing businesses and attracting new  businesses that complement the local work force and take advantage of its interstate and rail connectivity are a more realistic goal, she said.

“Sixty-three percent of economic development in Mississippi in 2015-16 was based on expansion, not new businesses,” she said.

The man behind one example of that was Exchange Club member John Westbrook, the owner of Gigantic Bag and J&D Warehouse.

He opened the plastics plant and a warehousing operation in unoccupied industrial space in Summit about a year ago and has been growing clientele and payrolls ever since.

“We employ 33 right now,” Westbrook said.

Busby said workforce capability is the top priority for businesses looking to move into a new area, and with that, she’s looking at getting ACT Work Ready Community certification for Pike, Amite, Walthall and Wilkinson counties. The program gives a snapshot of the local workforce’s competency in math, graphic literacy and other factors.

“I can tell (prospective employers) that we have an educated workforce all day long, but I can show them that we have an educated workforce” with the certification, she said.

Busby’s goal is to bring in good-paying, head-of-household jobs, which she believes will make a more meaningful impact on the economy, but she acknowledged that’s only going to happen if the workforce is capable of meeting the demands of employers.

“I would rather bring 25 high-paying jobs than 250 low-paying jobs,” she said. “It’s about improving the well-being and quality of life for everyone living here, too.”

The type of jobs that do come can go a long way in creating indirect jobs, she said.

Busby said job market experts claim the addition of 100 service jobs will create 23 indirect jobs, while 100 new manufacturing jobs can lead to 79 others.

Busby said residents and officials can do a lot for the economic development effort by talking up the area, taking care of their properties and taking action against blight.

If someone has a negative perception of the area, then “you want to change the perception that people have of you, but we also want to work on the perception of our community from the inside,” she said. “That’s where I need everyone’s help.”

Busby, a Pike County native, said that when traveling through the state she meets a lot of people who have connections to that area and they tend to speak favorably of it.

She noted that land development is a big part of her job as well, and said Gateway was a good investment, even if it takes time to grow. Without it, Pike County is already knocked out of consideration for most projects, she said.

“When you have people come to town and you don’t have anything to show them, you’re cutting yourself out of a project immediately,” Busby said, adding that businesses “don’t want to wait two years for you to clear land and trees.”

While Pike County has new industrial park land, there’s a dearth of existing industrial facilities like the ones Westbrook moved into.

“We don’t have a lot of those buildings anymore so we have to talk about building new ones or acquiring more,” Busby said.

Overall, Busby said Pike County is in good shape.

“Our unemployment rate for Pike County is the lowest it’s been since 2001. ... With the oil and gas market where it is for it to go down to 5 percent in the past couple of years, that’s great,” she said.

Westbrook said the work the economic development district does for new businesses can be essential to seeing them open at all.

“I thank their department and everything Jill has done on Day 1 for this,” he said, adding that the office helped gather information on tax credits, infrastructure and other issues.

“I really give y’all credit and thank economic development because you all have done an outstanding job,” he said.

Doing the research and legwork for businesses looking to grow here is just part of the job, Busby said.

“I try to jump through all of those hoops for them,” she said.



Pike County Certifying Workforce


Pike County, along with Amite, Walthall, and Wilkinson Counties, is currently undergoing the process of being designated as an ACT Work Ready Community. The ACT Work Ready Community is a designation earned by counties who work with ACT to close the labor skills gap within their communities. Participating counties must go through a yearlong implementation process in which county leaders attend four academies facilitated by the ACT. As a part of the program, each individual county is given goals by the ACT to obtain, as well as to maintain, their certification status as a Work Ready Community. Upon completion of the four ACT academies, counties have two years to meet their goals provided by ACT.

The ACT Work Ready system relies on the ACT WorkKeys assessment, which is a three-part examination which tests applied mathematics, reading, and locating information. Local workforce participants take the WorkKeys assessment and, upon completion, are awarded the National Career Ready Certificate, better known as the NCRC.

Testimonials & Facts

  • Glover Freeman Quin Jr., born January 15, 1986 is an American football safety for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. He played college football at New Mexico and Southwest Mississippi Community College, and was drafted by the Houston Texans in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft.


  • Britney Spears was born on December 2, 1981, in McComb, Mississippi. She starred in The All-New Mickey Mouse Club at age 11, and began a highly successful career as a pop singer and performer with the release of the single…


  • Dixie Packaging, Inc. specializes in custom manufactured low-density polyethylene products.  For over 20 years Dixie has worked closely with their customers to help them determine their specific packaging needs. Whether it be bags, sheeting or tubing, Dixie products provide the…


  • McComb Coca-Cola Bottling Company, a division of Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc., was founded in 1907. McComb Coca-Cola products are distributed under exclusive franchise agreements with The Coca-Cola Company and other beverage franchise companies in the greater McComb area. McComb Coca-Cola distributes…


  • Headquartered in Atlanta, Aaron's, Inc. (NYSE: AAN), a leading omnichannel provider of lease-purchase solutions was founded in 1955, has been publicly traded since 1982, and owns the Aarons, Progressive Leasing and HELPcard brands. Aaron’s engages in the sales and lease…


  • Established in 1994, Summit Plastics has become a major provider of a large variety of custom polyethylene film and bags. With an annual capacity of over 28 million pounds, Summit Plastics can handle the needs of large customers. Summit Plastics…


  • Sanderson Farms® is one of the nation’s leading food corporations, with annual sales of more than $2.8 billion and a weekly processing capacity of 10.625 million chickens per week. By relying on organic growth rather than acquisition, Sanderson Farms has…


  • Norwood was born on February 11, 1979, in McComb, Mississippi, the daughter of Willie Norwood, a former gospel singer and choir director, and his wife, Sonja Norwood. She is the older sister of entertainer Ray J, as well as a cousin of rapper Snoop Dogg. Raised in a Christian home,…


  • Fernwood Country Club has a storied and rich tradition dating back to 1924. Several generations have enjoyed recreation and fellowship and created memories at this historic Mississippi club. We are very proud of the improvements they have achieved in recent…


  • Acclaimed as a founder of rock 'n' roll, Bo Diddley (Ellas Bates McDaniel) was born near Magnolia, south of McComb, on December 30, 1928. Diddley wrote and recorded such hits as “I’m a Man,” “Bo Diddley,” “Say Man,” and “Road…


  • Over the last 30 years, Pike County's Val Deer has mastered thatch architecture and has become a purveyor of rare and exotic woods. His work can be found at Disneyworld, London's Parliament Building and in celebrity homes such as Gloria Estefan,…


  • Weyerhaeuser Company began more than 100 years ago with 900,000 acres of timberland, three employees and a small office in Tacoma, Washington. Founded in 1900 by Frederick Weyerhaeuser, they grew to become one of the largest sustainable forest products companies…


  • Over fifty years ago, Croft moved its operations from Jamestown, New York to McComb, Mississippi. This move proved vital to Croft capturing and capitalizing on the window and door market. Today, they are one of the largest window and door suppliers in…


  • Loblolly pines and stately magnolia trees, rolling hills, spectacular wildlife, and seasonal flowers await visitors at Percy Quin State Park. One of the original state parks cleared and constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Percy Quin is…


  • Based on over 47 combined years of experience in the plastics and packaging industries, Gigantic Bag leverages a vast network of companies, relationships, and understanding to facilitate delivering the highest quality polyethylene bags at the best price with unsurpassed customer…


  • Brown Bottling Group, established in Mississippi since 1971, is a franchise distributor for Pepsi Cola and Dr Pepper Beverages representing the top-selling products in virtually every category of the beverage industry covering soft drinks, juices, sport drinks, water, coffee and…


  • Born and raised in McComb, Mississippi, Dyson attended McComb High School, where he starred in baseball and footballas a running back. At McComb, Dyson earned All-Division honors but was passed over by most scouts due to his slight stature. Dyson later attended Southwest Mississippi Community…


  • William Ray Norwood Jr. was born in McComb, Mississippi to Willie Norwood and Sonja Bates-Norwood. His older sister Brandy is an award-winning, multi-platinum recording artist. Early in his life, he moved with his family from McComb, Mississippi to Los Angeles, California, and in 1989 started appearing in television commercials for…


  • Fabricated Pipe is a pipe fabrication company that has established a reputation for meeting clients’ needs by delivering quality services in a timely manner. With fabrication facilities in both Fernwood, Mississippi and Baton Rouge, Louisiana and a home office in Baton…


  • La'Porsha Renae Jennings (born August 1, 1993) is an American singer from McComb, Mississippi. In 2015, she auditioned for the fifteenth and final season of American Idol. On April 7, 2016, she finished as runner-up on the show, behind winner Trent Harmon.


Pike County Economic Development District
Mailing address: PO Box 5302, Summit, MS 39666
Physical address: Southwest Mississippi Community College, 1156 College Drive, Summit, MS 39666