EDA’s Career Coaches Strengthen Workforce Readiness

In partnership with Accelrate MS, the Economic Development Authority’s (EDA) Career Coach program is revolutionizing how high school students in Mississippi plan their futures. Focusing on providing one-on-one guidance and support, this program aims to bridge the gap between education and employment, ensuring students are well-prepared for their post-graduation paths.

The Growth of the Career Coach Program

Launched in 2022, the Career Coach program has expanded significantly thanks to increased investment and support. In the 2023-2024 academic year, the number of career coaches in Mississippi public high schools increased from just 20 to 185, covering 78% of public high schools and 79% of school districts statewide.

How Career Coaches Make a Difference

Career coaches are crucial in connecting students with industry leaders and local employers. They provide personalized guidance to help students explore various career options, understand the skills required, and navigate the complexities of the job market. By engaging with students through one-on-one conversations, group interactions, and field trips, career coaches help students set realistic goals and create actionable plans.

For instance, in Jones County, career coaches have significantly impacted the local community by building excitement and engagement among students and businesses. They help students complete college and job applications, connect them with internships and job-shadowing opportunities, and even involve parents in the career planning process.

Success Stories and Future Goals

The Career Coach program has already produced impressive results. In the past year alone, coaches have facilitated over 25,000 one-on-one student conversations, 4,108 parent meetings, 2,905 college applications, and 1,741 job applications. These efforts have helped students clarify their career goals and increased the number of federal student aid applications completed in the state.

The program aims to extend its reach further, potentially introducing career concepts to junior high and elementary students. This proactive approach ensures that students are aware of their options and prepared for their future from an early age.


The EDA’s Career Coach program exemplifies how targeted support and guidance can transform students’ futures and contribute to economic growth. By providing the resources and connections students need, career coaches are helping to build a skilled workforce ready to meet the demands of Mississippi’s growing industries.

Local Expansion Boosts Jones County Economy

Laurel Machine & Foundry Expands Operations, Boosts Local Economy

In a significant move for the local economy, Laurel Machine & Foundry is expanding its operations in Jones County, representing a corporate investment of more than $3.14 million. This expansion is expected to create at least seven new jobs, highlighting the company’s commitment to growth and the community.


Expansion Details


Laurel Machine & Foundry, a longstanding pillar in Mississippi’s industrial manufacturing sector, is set to enhance its manufacturing capabilities. The expansion project includes the construction of a 20,000-square-foot machining facility and a 7,500-square-foot warehouse. Additionally, new equipment will be purchased and installed to support the increased demand for their services. These services encompass a range of industrial and manufacturing needs, including computer numerical control (CNC) and manual machining, plate and structural fabrication, metal processing, and iron casting.


Economic Impact


The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) is supporting this project through the Mississippi Flexible Tax Incentive (MFLEX) program. This initiative is designed to provide the necessary assistance to companies looking to expand their operations within the state, fostering economic growth and job creation.


Company Legacy and Commitment


Established in 1904, Laurel Machine & Foundry has been a cornerstone of the Laurel community and Mississippi’s manufacturing industry for over a century. The company plans to complete the expansion within a year and aims to fill the new positions within three years. This development is a testament to the company’s enduring legacy and its continued commitment to innovation and excellence.


Leadership and Community Support


Governor Tate Reeves expressed his gratitude for the company’s ongoing investment in the state, stating, “Industrial manufacturing is at the core of Mississippi’s economy. When companies like Laurel Machine & Foundry expand, they show the world that we have the tools and workforce to drive growth in this important sector.”


MDA Executive Director Bill Cork also praised the company’s decision to expand, noting its historical significance and its role in the state’s recent economic growth. “MDA is proud to support Laurel Machine & Foundry as this valued Mississippi company grows in Jones County. For 120 years, LMF has been central to the Laurel community and Mississippi’s manufacturing sector.”


Trent Mulloy, President of Laurel Machine & Foundry, shared his enthusiasm for the expansion, particularly as the company celebrates 120 years in business. “I cannot think of a better way to celebrate 120 years of business in Laurel, Mississippi! As the fourth generation of a family-owned manufacturing company, I am excited to continue to grow our facilities in the great state of Mississippi.”


Ross Tucker, President of the Economic Development Authority of Jones County, highlighted the company’s commitment to the local economy. “Laurel Machine & Foundry has consistently demonstrated a commitment to excellence, innovation, and the growth of our local economy. Providing resources and support to existing industry is an important goal for us at the EDA.”


Looking Forward


The expansion of Laurel Machine & Foundry is a promising development for Jones County, reflecting a strong partnership between the company, local authorities, and state programs. As the project progresses, it is expected to bring substantial benefits to the local workforce and economy, reinforcing Mississippi’s position as a leader in industrial manufacturing.


For more updates on economic developments in Jones County, follow the Jones County Chamber of Commerce on social media.


For further details, you can read the original announcement on the Mississippi Development Authority website.  

Cold-Link Logistics: 84 New Jobs Boost Jones County Economy

Cold-Link Logistics, in partnership with Mississippi-based Whitestone Transportation, announced their investment of $64 million to construct a new cold storage warehouse and transportation hub. This significant development is projected to create 84 new jobs, reinforcing Jones County as a thriving place for business expansion and investment.

Located near Ellisville, the 200,000-square-foot facility will reside on a spacious 65-acre site, contributing robustly to our local economy and offering immense benefits to existing businesses. Assisted by the Mississippi Development Authority, the City of Ellisville, and Jones County, this project exemplifies the power of collaboration in driving economic growth.

Ross Tucker, President of the Economic Development Authority of Jones County, emphasizes the region’s aggressive site development approach as key to securing this deal. Being “shovel-ready” offered a significant advantage, demonstrating that our commitment to preparation and infrastructure enhancement opens doors for such valuable partnerships.

Cold-Link Logistics President and Founder Michael Mandich, expresses enthusiasm about the expansion to Jones County, highlighting the company’s intent to support both current and prospective customers throughout the state and southeast. The new facility will serve local producers, responding to their growth needs and contributing to community development.

This partnership with Whitestone Transportation will bolster local producers’ operations, offering cost-saving benefits and increased efficiency. The facility will bridge producers and their customers more effectively, affirming our belief in the power of strategic partnerships and the opportunities they bring.

Construction work is slated to begin later this year, with a groundbreaking ceremony in mid-June. This project signifies Jones County’s continued growth and affirms our commitment to fostering a pro-business environment. As we welcome this new investment and the job opportunities it brings, we are more optimistic than ever about the future of our thriving business community.

Stay tuned for more updates on this promising development. Together, let’s celebrate the growth and prosperity of Jones County.

Top 5 Strategies for Small Businesses to Recruit New Employees

As a small business owner, recruiting top talent is integral to your business’s success. Attracting the right people to your team can sometimes feel daunting, especially when competing with larger corporations with seemingly endless resources. However, small businesses offer unique advantages that can be leveraged in the recruitment process. Here are our top 5 strategies for small businesses to attract and recruit new employees.

1. Leverage Your Unique Company Culture

Small businesses often have a distinct and close-knit company culture that larger corporations can’t emulate. Potential employees are attracted to workplaces where they feel they can significantly impact and build meaningful relationships with their coworkers. Highlight your company’s culture in job postings, on your website, and during interviews to attract like-minded candidates.

2. Offer Competitive Benefits

While you may not be able to match the salaries larger corporations offer, consider offering other competitive benefits. This could include flexible work hours, remote work options, professional development opportunities, or additional vacation time. These benefits often appeal to job seekers looking for work-life balance and personal growth.

3. Utilize Social Media and Online Platforms

Social media isn’t just for marketing your products or services – it’s also an effective recruitment tool. Regularly posting about job openings on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, or even Instagram can get the word out to potential candidates. Additionally, ensure your business has a presence on online job boards to reach a wider audience.

4. Develop an Employee Referral Program

Your existing employees can be your best recruiters. They understand your business and likely know others in the industry who would be a good fit. Consider implementing an employee referral program that incentivizes staff who refer successful candidates.

5. Network Locally

As a small business, you have deep connections within your local community. Utilize local networking events, industry meetups, and Chamber of Commerce gatherings to meet potential candidates. Not only will this give you access to a pool of potential employees, but it also increases your business’s visibility within the community.

Recruiting new employees is an ongoing process vital to your business’s growth. By leveraging your unique advantages as a small business and using these strategies, you can attract top talent to help your business thrive. Remember, it’s not just about finding a candidate with the right skills but also finding someone who aligns with your company’s culture and values. Happy recruiting!