In an economic climate where change is the only certainty, Tupelo's Community Development Foundation (CDF) is embracing this new standard, charging forward with its mission to create new and better jobs for Tupelo/Lee County.
Throughout its rich 63-year history, CDF has spearheaded the region’s transition from an agrarian society to one with a manufacturing focus. And today, the economic development group is helping move Tupelo/Lee County into a knowledge-based economy, ensuring that future generations will enjoy the same prosperity that has made this community a hub for business and industry throughout the years.
“The past successes of CDF have given Tupelo/Lee County a very favorable business climate and quality of life,” says Dr. David Irwin, 2011-2012 CDF chairman. “But CDF does not rest on its laurels. We are constantly seeking new ways to adapt to the global economy, and this is evidenced in the way we recruit new business and engage our existing industry.”
CDF embraced the region’s move to advanced manufacturing, as demonstrated by its recruitment of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi. Fall 2011 marks the start of production for Toyota, where the Corolla will be assembled. With more than 800 team members already hard at work at the Blue Springs facility, Toyota’s $1 billion investment will crest at 2,000 employees. Toyota suppliers like Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi, located in the Harry A. Martin North Lee Industrial Complex, are also ramping up hiring to meet Toyota's needs.
Training Tomorrow's Workforce Today
Through a partnership with Itawamba Community College (ICC), CDF’s workforce development program has enabled more than 12,000 employees to upgrade their job skills through training offered as part of the CDF/ICC consortium. The program offers specialized courses, at greatly discounted rates, allowing local industries to provide cost-effective training to their employees.
CDF is also helping train employees of the future through such programs as the Tek2Go Manufacturing Camp. Held each June, the camp is designed to help inspire the next generation of inventors, engineers, entrepreneurs and manufacturers, and is a technical, hands-on experience to introduce students to 21st-century manufacturing technology and basic entrepreneurial skills.
Growing Businesses and Ideas
CDF is also helping usher in the knowledge-based economy for the area's small businesses through the Renasant Center for IDEAs, Tupelo/Lee County’s regional business incubator. The incubator helps businesses of all shapes and sizes develop a plan for entrepreneurial success. Hyperion Technology Group, located inside the Renasant Center for IDEAs, is a technology-based company meeting the needs of its customers through innovative technological means. Geoff Carter, president of Hyperion Technology Group, has utilized the business incubator to grow his business, which now employs 11 full-time and five part-time personnel.
“The CDF and Renasant Center for IDEAs has been an extremely valuable partner, helping Hyperion get off to a running start,” says Carter. “The flexible and economical space is only part of the benefits made available to us by this relationship, but it is the 'behind-the-scenes' benefits like entrepreneurial training classes and introductions to local, state and national business and government leaders that really helped us get started.”
As the economy continues to evolve and present new challenges, CDF will seek out diverse ways to create more and better jobs for the people of the region. Just as change is guaranteed, so is the fact that CDF is a constant, driving force, keeping Tupelo/Lee County on a path for success.
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