Burnsville, Mississippi began a railroad town in the 1830s bringing industry and settlement to the region with rail, highway, and waterway access. During the 1990’s, Tishomingo County lost approximately 2,500 manufacturing jobs. As the economy began to once again climb in the 2000’s with an increase in manufacturing, the Great Recession hit causing a rapid increase in unemployment. By 2013, unemployment reached 35.4% (more than 3x the national average).
As the younger population began leaving the area in search of employment opportunities; skilled workforce became a challenge. The county was designated “low education” with one out of every five residents below the poverty threshold.
Mississippi Silicon has changed those statistics. With the help of a $20 million NMTC allocation from RDP, the company built and is operating a $214 million, 174,000 SF silicon metal production facility. Silicon metal is used world-wide in aluminum, automotive, chemical, semiconductor, and solar industries. They produce over $100 million in product annually, spending over $52 million on raw materials such as quartz, coal, wood chips, electricity, and electrodes – materials that serve as the building blocks for the successful production of high-grade silicon. Some of these materials are sourced internationally, but most will come directly from small towns and regions in the Southern and Midwestern United States creating a catalytic economic boost for rural America.
The arrival of Mississippi Silicon has also helped elevate the standard to which the Tishomingo County School District holds itself.
In addition to providing NMTC funding, RDP organizes community leaders to create a Community Investment Program for further revitalization of the rural communities they work with. Recognizing the educational needs in this community, RDP and MS Silicon provided matching funds totaling $200,000 to NE Mississippi Community College (NEMCC) to fund a lab expansion, purchase welding equipment, fund a manufacturing academy, and provide for maintenance training. Tishomingo County Career and Technical Center also received funding for its Agriculture equipment training lab.
- 82 students have completed the manufacturing academy
- 75 students certified in Smart Start & Manufacturing Skills
- 124 individuals have received certificates of career readiness