Senate Bill #2155 has passed and is headed to the House!

Bill #2155 proposes the addition of a tax to all city of Laurel hotels and vacation rentals. Senator Juan Barnett is the author of the bill and a long time supporter of progress in Laurel & Jones County. Funds from this tax will be dedicated to tourism and marketing. Bill #2155 made it out of the Senate’s Local and Private Committee & Finance Committee. It arrived on the Senate Floor on March 8, 2022 and was passed. The next step is for the bill to move to the House. If passed there, the city of Laurel resident’s will vote on it. The Jones County EDA fully supports this bill and is looking forward to following its progress.

Jones Connect First Friday – Meet our new Chamber Director!

March 4 – Meet our new Chamber Director!
TOPIC: Membership Education

WHY ATTEND: Discover how you can maximize your membership with the Chamber by learning about upcoming events, member promotions and business resources. You will also CO.nnect with other local professionals, as the event is open to any employee of a Chamber member company. No matter if you are a new member, are new to your role or are looking for new avenues to promote your business, you will walk away with immediate opportunities that will help grow your company!

ADDITIONAL DETAILS: Complimentary breakfast and coffee will be available. Bring business cards and invite your colleagues to join you too!

NOT A CHAMBER MEMBER? Non-members may attend ONE Jones CO.nnect First Friday event as our guest. Please e-mail for more details.

Minority Owned Small Business Grant Program

Mississippi Power has partnered with the Jones County Chamber of Commerce to offer a Minority Owned Small Business Grant opportunity to the eligible businesses in Jones County. This grant program is intended to be an opportunity for minority small business owners to grow and develop their business. Mississippi Power’s charitable giving program aims to give back to the communities they serve. The Jones County Chamber of Commerce always stives to connect businesses in our membership with every opportunity available to help them grow and thrive.



Each eligible business may submit one application and request up to $3,000 in grant money. They must adequately describe their intended use of the money in the appropriate fields on the application. This does not mean that each business who applies will be awarded money or that they will be awarded the total amount they request. Applications will be reviewed by the grant committee who will discern what amount each eligible business shall receive. If an eligible business does not have a clear or effective plan in place to use the funds they request, the grant committee may deem that business ineligible to receive these funds.



To qualify for grant funds, a business must meet each of the following requirements:

  • Be a member of the Jones County Chamber of Commerce considered in good standing.
  • Be a current Mississippi Power customer.
  • Have 50 or fewer employees.
  • Be at least 51% minority owned.
    • For the purposes of this grant, a minority is defined as Asian-Indian, Asian Pacific, Black, Hispanic, Native American, or Woman.



All applications must be submitted to the Chamber of Commerce office in person or by mail before 5:00pm on March 25, 2022, to be considered.



Mississippi Power and the Jones County Chamber of Commerce reserve the right to publicize and distribute all information submitted in this application. This information will primarily be used to show the success of this grant program in efforts to continue it in the future. We reserve the right within our sole discretion to deny any application for any reason deemed appropriate by the grant committee. NOT ALL BUSINESSES WHO APPLY WILL RECEIVE FUNDS.


Download the application HERE.

EDA to Receive Over $4 Million in Site Development Grants

Governor Tate Reeves has announced the state of Mississippi will invest nearly $25 million in site development projects throughout the state. The Economic Development Authority of Jones County has been working with the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) since early summer and will now be receiving three of these grants totaling in over $4 Million.

MDA has several site classifications that aid in determining investment levels. The EDA of Jones County has one “Ready Site” and two “Select Sites.” The Ready Site is in the Howard Industrial Park and will receive $50,000 for drainage improvements. This is the maximum amount available to a Ready Site.

The I-59 South Site, is a Select Site located within Ellisville city limits, and will receive $553,600 for clearing and the construction of a temporary road. This site is a top priority for the EDA and has great potential to recruit big industry to Jones County.

The I-59 Supply Chain Park (at Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport) is a Select Site and a joint effort between Jones County, Forrest County, and the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport Authority. This site will receive $3,402,858 to upgrade sanitary sewer capacity, construct a building pad, and complete intersection modifications. The I-59 Supply Chain Park is the future home of FedEx Ground which is under construction now.

MDA has committed $11,642,589 to Select Sites funding. This means that Jones County will receive almost 34% of all funding being allocated to Select Sites. The Economic Development Authority of Jones County is grateful to have the state joining our local entities in supporting the growth and development of Jones County.

Johnny Burnett, President, Jones County Board of Supervisors, states “Jones County has worked hard to be a competitive option in Mississippi for new and existing industries to succeed. We appreciate the state investing with us and supporting our efforts to further improve site development.”

Ross Tucker, President, Economic Development Authority of Jones County, adds “Receiving this grant from the Mississippi Development Authority will allow The EDA of Jones County to continue to make our industrial property shovel-ready. This action allows us to compete with not only other counties in Mississippi, but other states. A well-developed industrial park will aid existing development and attract new industries with high paying jobs. This serves our ultimate goal of making Jones County a great place to live and work.”

Lewis Holifield, Area Manager, CenterPoint Energy states “Funds awarded from the Mississippi Development Authority will be a tremendous boost for Jones County acting as a catalyst for attracting new investments and creating job growth, which are key ingredients for a region to prosper. CenterPoint Energy is proud to support the Economic Development Authority of Jones County as they work to raise the standard of living for all county residents.”

These two conceptual renderings show the sites potential. The EDA will often submit these or similar renderings when applying for grants or marketing the sites to new industries. 

2022 Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off is February 12!

Laurel Main Street kicks off each new year with the annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off! The event takes place the second Saturday in February and is on North Magnolia Street with music, beverages (coke products & beer), and teams competing to be the winner. All entries are cooked on site and judged by a team of professionals.

Chili is sold by the All-You-Can-Eat $15 entry and by the Bottomless $30 keepsake pottery bowl. Bottomless bowls are hand crafted by local potter, Jeremy Brooke.

Each team is given tasting cups by which to serve chili. $15 entries allow attendees to browse teams and taste all the chili so that they can vote for the People’s Choice and fill up on delicious food along the way.

Children under twelve can grab a hot dog at the Magnolia State Bank Hospitality Tent, sample the chili, and enjoy the festivities, FREE!

Read more and find information about tickets on the Laurel Main Street Website. 

New FedEx Ground Facility Under Construction at I-59 Supply Chain Park

New FedEx Ground Facility Under Construction at I-59 Supply Chain Park

LAUREL, Mississippi – Local Officials in the Pine Belt announced today that FedEx Ground is constructing a new 217,000 square foot distribution facility located within the I-59 Supply Chain Park adjacent to Interstate 59 at the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport. The facility will employ a mix of full – and part-time employees that will adjust with seasonal demand.

FedEx Ground will be the largest facility to date located in the I-59 Supply Chain Park joining Ashley Furniture, NoTrax, and Flowers Bakery. This development will continue to propel advancements in the Park and allow for the area to further become a regional logistics hub for the Pine Belt.

This project announcement, along with the continued development of the I-59 Supply Chain Park, is a result of a strategic partnership between Forrest County and Jones County. For several years the counties have partnered together to make the I-59 Supply Chain Park more competitive for distribution projects. In this strategic interlocal agreement, each county shares equally in both the development costs and general tax revenue generated from projects in the Park.

The success of the I-59 Supply Chain Park is only possible due to the regional approach taken by the Jones County Board of Supervisors and Forrest County Board of Supervisors in partnership with the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport Authority Board. This strategic partnership, along with support from local utility allies like Cooperative Energy, Dixie Electric Power Association, and Spire Energy allows this team to work together to ensure the success of entire region.  The Jones County Economic Development Authority and the Area Development Partnership serve as the joint project leads for economic development projects in the Park, and this project represents the culmination of years of work between each of these parties.

Johnny Burnett, President, Jones County Board of Supervisors, states “We are excited to see FedEx Ground open a new facility in the I-59 Supply Chain Park. The strategic partnership between Jones County and Forrest County and the Airport Authority has led to the success of the I-59 Supply Chain Park. We are looking forward to the continued economic prosperity of the region through this partnership.”

David Hogan, President, Forrest County Board of Supervisors, adds “The announcement that FedEx Ground is opening a facility in the I-59 Supply Chain Park is not only a major win for Forrest County but also the entire region. The partnership among Forrest County, Jones County, and the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport Authority has played a pivotal role in making the I-59 Supply Chain Park what it is today. We are excited to see continued success in the Pine Belt.”

Bill Ray, Chairman, Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport Authority Board, expressed “The I-59 Supply Chain Park is an excellent location for companies looking to extend their footprint in the Gulf South, and we are thrilled that FedEx Ground has chosen to open a new facility here. There have been significant site development efforts over the years to prepare the property for new projects. FedEx Ground choosing to locate here will only continue to spur economic activity in the Park.”

The new facility is currently under construction along Superior Drive in the Park and is slated to begin operations in late 2022.



The Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport (PIB) serves a ten-county region from its convenient location just off Interstate 59 between Hattiesburg and Laurel and is South Mississippi’s gateway to the world. The Airport offers both commercial and general aviation services. In addition, the Airport offers an attractive on-site Business Park.


The Economic Development Authority of Jones County (EDA) is a public-private partnership. Established by a special act of Mississippi Legislature in 1983, the leadership of EDA is provided by a twenty-two member volunteer Board of Directors. Thirteen board members are appointed directly by the county, cities, and towns within Jones County, Mississippi. Nine board members are elected by the membership, with nominations received annually. Ten board members serve on the Executive Committee. An Advisory Committee composed of twenty business and civic leaders meets with the Board of Directors monthly to provide counsel and expertise.


The Area Development Partnership (ADP) serves as the regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development organization in Greater Hattiesburg, MS. The ADP’s mission is to stimulate economic growth and enhance the well-being and quality of life for all area citizens.  For more information, contact the ADP at 601.296.7500 or visit WWW.THEADP.COM.


ADP Contact: Todd Jackson
Executive Vice President
Area Development Partnership

HLRA Contact: Tom Heanue
Executive Director
Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport

Jones County EDA: Ross Tucker
President & CEO
Economic Development Authority of Jones County

Scotsman Manufacturing Company beginning operations in Laurel, Creating 85 jobs!

Scotsman Manufacturing Company is proud to call Laurel home of its new manufacturing operations.


Erin and Ben Napier, hosts of HGTV’s hit series Home Town and co-owners of Laurel Mercantile Company, along with partners Mallorie and Jim Rasberry and Emily and Josh Nowell, are locating wood countertop and cutting board manufacturing operations under a new company, Scotsman Manufacturing Company. The new company will be housed in a revitalized facility near downtown Laurel. The Scotsman Manufacturing team is committed to American-made goods and will wholesale its products to retailers nationwide, creating 85 jobs in a once-shuttered industrial complex.


The Mississippi Development Authority is providing assistance for building improvements. Scotsman Manufacturing Company also has been certified for the Advantage Jobs Rebate Program, which is designated for eligible businesses that create new jobs exceeding the average annual wage of the state or county in which the company locates or expands. Mississippi Power is aiding with energy efficiency upgrades to the facility.



“My administration is committed to building a stronger economy that will benefit Laurel residents for generations to come, and we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Scotsman Manufacturing Company to create 85 jobs that will pay above average wages. The Scotsman Manufacturing team exemplifies the pride Mississippians take in their communities, and our dedication to producing some of the best products found in the country. On behalf of all Mississippi, we thank them for their continued investment in the Hospitality State and its people. There is no doubt that they are truly making our state a better place for all Mississippians.” – Gov. Tate Reeves


“Manufacturing, a top economic driver for Mississippi, employs tens of thousands of workers in our state. When homegrown companies stay in Mississippi to plant roots and begin creating jobs in our communities, it truly does make a statement to other companies that we are a great place to do business. Scotsman Manufacturing will be an asset to Laurel and Jones County for many years to come, and MDA is proud to support this and future endeavors as the company brings good jobs to the area’s residents.” – MDA Interim Executive Director Laura Hipp


“We appreciate the support of the EDA of Jones County, the MDA and the state of Mississippi as we commit to new jobs through the manufacturing of quality wood products here in Laurel. If we are going to be serious about revitalizing small towns, then we have to be serious about creating manufacturing in those small towns.” – Jim Rasberry, Chairman of Scotsman Manufacturing Company


“The Napiers and their partners the Rasberrys and the Nowells have consistently chosen to invest back into our community. We are proud they have once again chosen to expand locally by basing their latest endeavor, Scotsman Manufacturing Company, here in Laurel. In true Napier fashion, they have chosen a distressed warehouse to revitalize and start this new venture. Jones County has certainly seen a positive impact from each project they claim, and we are confident this one will follow suit.”Jones County Economic Development Authority President Ross Tucker


“The work that the Napiers, their team and countless others have done in Laurel has helped rejuvenate, rebuild and revitalize a beautiful Mississippi city. Scotsman Manufacturing’s impact on southeast Mississippi, from direct and indirect jobs, additional economic growth and local pride, will be immeasurable.” – Mississippi Power Vice President of External Affairs Billy Thornton

Our 2021 Membership Golf Tournament was a success!

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the Chamber of Commerce and EDA’s 2021 Membership Golf Tournament! We were so excited to be able to bring back this favorite event after missing two years due to Covid-19. The day could not have been more perfect with clear a sky and cool temperatures in the morning!

This was a great reminder of how wonderful our members are. We had thirty teams play in the tournament with half participating in the morning Flight and the remaining half in the afternoon flight. The Laurel Country Club did an excellent job facilitating our tournament and providing our lunch between flights. Our Ambassadors and volunteers made the day a breeze and so much fun as they always do! We are already looking forward to next year’s golf tournament!


To view more photos from the event, check out the Facebook album. 

Attention Job Seekers!!! EDA hosts Job Fair

The Jones County Economic Development Authority is excited to partner with the Governor’s Job Fair Network, Mississippi Department of Employment Security, and the WIN Job Center to host the I-59 Job Fair!

The EDA hopes to provide Jones County residents with the tools they need to successfully reenter the workforce.  There is no admission fee for applicants to attend the I-59 Job Fair. Masks are required for individuals who are not fully vaccinated. Pre-registration is highly encouraged and can be done online at Applicants should bring registration confirmation and provide it at the check-in station on the day of the job fair. There will be onsite registration available for those who do not pre-register online. Applicants should be prepared for on-site interviews and bring plenty of resumes as copiers will not be available. Contact the WIN Job Center for resume help. Dress for success and take advantage of this great opportunity!

Currently registered are At Home Care, Biloxi Police Department, DJ Transit, Domino’s (RPM Pizza), Dunn Roadbuilders, Ellisville State School, Forrest General Hospital, Gipson Steel, Harrison County Sheriff’s Office, Hol-Mac Corporation, Howard Industries, Ingalls Shipbuilding, Jones College Workforce College, Kohler Engines, Laurel Housing Authority, Management & Training Corporation , Mar Jac Poultry, Masonite, Mississippi Department of Corrections, Mississippi State Personnel Board, Mississippi Veterans Home – Collins, Parish Transport, Pearl River Resort-Bok Homa Casino, PG Technologies, Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources, PrideStaff, Rail Crew Xpress, Sanderson Farms, South Central Regional Medical Center, Group, ThermoKool, VT Halter Marine, and Wayne Farms. This event is sponsored by Mississippi Department of Employment Security, Governor’s Job Fair Network, WIN Job Center, and Jones County Economic Development Authority.