Hinds County (MS) – Economic Development Strategic Plan
ChallengeHinds County’s position as a vibrant employment center for the greater Jackson metropolitan area center is well established. Home to Mississippi’s largest city and its state capitol; intersected by two major interstates and multiple rail lines; possessing a significant cluster of healthcare services, research, and education; endowed with distinguished institutions of higher education; and attracting substantial new capital investments to downtown Jackson – Hinds County has all the elements necessary for success. Hinds County’s full potential, however, remains unrealized. Despite its amenities, the county suffers from falling income levels, a declining population, and slow employment growth.
ApproachTIP Strategies was engaged by the Hinds County Economic Development District to craft an economic development strategic plan, identifying appropriate target industries and outlining the necessary steps for attracting emerging industries to the county. To develop the plan, TIP performed an assessment of the county’s challenges and opportunities and identified growth industries it is best suited to attracting. In addition, interviews with major employers and stakeholders, research on specific industries, meetings with focus groups, and benchmarking all added insight on Hinds County’s opportunities and challenges.
OutcomeTIP designed a comprehensive strategy that included diversifying the economic base through business attraction and retention, as well as ensuring the long-term economic competitiveness of Hinds County by addressing talent and quality of place. Strategies to accomplish these goals include establishing a higher education alliance, launching a next generation leadership initiative; engaging in a targeted marketing campaign to emerging industries; actively supporting entrepreneurship; assisting in the revitalization of downtown Jackson; and promoting heritage tourism in the rural areas of the county.
As a result of the planning effort, Hinds County initiated a campaign to designate the county as “Mississippi’s Higher Education Capital.” The initiative is focused on retaining high school graduates in the region, assisting local higher education institutions in attracting talent, and creating opportunities for skills training through local community and technical colleges. In addition, development has begun on two new employment destinations: one targeting light manufacturing and the other focused on aviation-related uses.