Cooperative Energy, together with the 11 Member electric distribution cooperatives it serves, invested $272,000 in strategic economic development efforts across the state in 2022.
The grant funds were awarded as part of the Cooperative Competes program which provides funding for proactive site and community development, with the goal of increasing competitiveness of the region to attract new jobs and investment.
“Electric cooperatives are unique because we’re owned by those we serve—our Members, and we strive to make a difference,” said Jeff C. Bowman, Cooperative Energy president, and CEO. “Our team’s commitment is to improve the quality of life in the communities our Members serve, and the Cooperative Competes program is a prime example of this commitment.”
In 2022, the following grants were awarded in these regions to enhance community and economic development efforts at the local level.
Wayne County – $25,000. A grant was awarded to assist Carpenter Pole & Piling with site preparation and dirt work for a new pole mill in the Wayne County Industrial Park. The project will result in 15 new jobs and over $3.5 million in private capital investment. The site is served by Dixie Electric.
Harrison County – $10,000. The Harrison County Development Commission was awarded funds for the SEA Force (Skills. Experience. Adventure.) career exploration program which involves partnerships with local high school juniors and seniors and businesses to match students with career pathways in the region. Harrison County is within Coast Electric’s service territory.
Claiborne County – $5,000. Funds were awarded to support Claiborne County’s Summer Work STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program for graduating and incoming high school seniors. Claiborne County is within Southwest Electric’s service territory.
Montgomery County – $25,000. A Cooperative Competes grant was awarded to assist the City of Winona with water and sewer line relocation to support the Pilot Travel Center, served by Delta Electric, at the intersection of Interstate 55 and US Highway 82.
Forrest and Lamar Counties – $32,000. Cooperative Competes funds were awarded to assist the counties and the Area Development Partnership with community and site preparedness at the Eagle One Mega Site, just outside of the City of Hattiesburg. The Eagle One Mega Site is over 2,000 acres of industrial property along Interstate 59 with rail access. The site is served by Pearl River Valley Electric.
Amite County – $100,000. Funds were awarded to support the Gloster Forest Products sawmill, the town and county’s largest economic development investment in recent history. The Cooperative Competes grant helped alleviate up-front electric upgrade costs to serve the state-of-the-art sawmill. Gloster Forest Products has committed to invest $200 million and create over 130 new jobs at the facility, which will be served by Southwest Electric.
Forrest County – $25,000. The Forest County Industrial Park Commission received a $25,000 grant for site preparation and engineering due diligence to support the development of a 23-acre parcel at the Hattiesburg-Forrest County Industrial Park, served by Pearl River Valley Electric.
Jones County – $50,000. Funds were used as a portion of the local match required by Jones County for the Mississippi Development Authority Select Sites program. The site development project included clearing significant acreage on the I-59 Industrial Site, a 446-acre industrial property in Ellisville, and constructing all-weather roads that will provide better access for prospective clients visiting the site. Dixie Electric serves the southern portion of the I-59 Industrial Site.
The Cooperative Competes initiative, aimed at increasing product and community competitiveness, was unveiled in early 2019. A component of the initiative allows economic development organizations to apply for grant funds to offset industrial property development costs or invest in other community and economic development efforts. These funds are provided jointly by Cooperative Energy’s 11-member electric distribution cooperatives
Since the program’s inception, 43 Cooperative Competes grants totaling over $1.8 million have been awarded across 25 counties in our Members’ service territories.
For more information about Cooperative Competes or the economic development efforts of Cooperative Energy, visit www.cooperativeenergy.com/economic-development