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Pike County Economic Development District

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.


Tigers Take To TV

McComb High School digital media students launch Roar

Clay Russell - Enterprise Journal


Nestled at the end of a cinder block hallway in McComb School District’s Business and Technology Complex, where students learn marketable real-world skills in carpentry, culinary arts, health sciences and other areas, a new creative endeavor is taking shape.

Roar TV, which launched at the beginning of the current school season,  is an online broadcasting network created, as its slogan says, “for students by students.” It is an offshoot of the school’s Digital Media program, where students learn Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, which are the building blocks of many graphic arts applications, music and film production, and animation.

On a recent morning, Cederick Ellis and Ebony Gayden served as co-anchors of a newscast covering, among other student-centric topics, the week’s lunch menu.

The Roar TV studio is a bedroom-size space, its walls draped in emerald-green sheets. The so-called green screen process allows technicians to separate a background from everything appearing in front of it, including on-air talent.

A common use of green screen is for television weather reports, in which reporters point to maps showing temperatures, cold front and other meteorological conditions. In the studio, the reporter is looking only at a blank screen.

Although Roar TV reporters and interviewees sit in the studio awash in a sea of green, viewers see a wood-paneled studio and contemporary anchor desk worthy of any major-network news broadcast.

In-studio guests are reminded not to wear green lest they turn into torso-less heads, their clothing disappearing into the backdrop. But in a school whose colors are green and gold, accidents sometimes happen.

Referring to district superintendent Cederick Ellis Sr., digital media teacher Dominic Graham said with a chuckle, “Dr. Ellis showed up wearing green. And a bunch of volleyball girls came in in green.”

Roar TV programming is not limited to what comes from the studio, but remote interviews and outside feature filming are a little more work.

“We have to do permission forms for every single trip,” Graham said.

Students will take to the field in October for a Halloween-appropriate zombie movie. Because television and film production involves dozens of crafts and skills, and given a small body of talent from which to draw, students often take on multiple roles.

Graham explained, for example, that Ebony Gayden, the on-air news presenter, is also a makeup artist who will turn classmate-performers into flesh-hungry zombies for the October shoot.

Once news broadcasts, interviews and feature material are recorded on tape, the editing team takes over, culling the best takes and synching image with sound.

Larry Brown uses Final Cut Pro video editing software, the same program employed by many professional filmmakers, to assemble coherent and entertaining final products.

His work in the Digital Media program is not part of a career plan, Brown said, but “just something interesting to do.”

And in the spirit of multitasking, Brown is also a script writer.

Across the classroom, Devin Holeman and Aaron Fleming are learning animation techniques, which can be used not only for entertainment purposes but also to generate the moving visual effects that render news stories more engaging.

Beyond news broadcasts and the upcoming horror film, Roar TV will also soon host Tech Talk, a joint production with MississippiRising.org, which shares regional “tales of creativity.”

The new show will cover the latest in technology, such as cellphones and apps.

The Roar TV production facilities allow it to take on outside work, including paid advertisements for local businesses, and public service announcements, such as an upcoming project about school bus safety.

After only a matter of weeks, Roar TV is on the air.



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.

Amite, Pike, Walthall, and Wilkinson Counties will be attending the fourth and final required ACT academy in the month of December.

Testimonials & Facts

  • 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…


  • 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…


  • 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…


  • 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…


  • 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.


  • 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…


  • 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…


  • 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,…


  • 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…


  • 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…


  • 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.


  • 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…


  • 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…


  • 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…


  • 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…


  • 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…


  • 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,…


  • 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…


  • 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…


  • 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…


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