Hancock County Aerospace Initiative Wins Economic Development Award

Courtesy of Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission

At the award presentation were (from left) Hancock County Port & Harbor Commissioner Michael Casano, Cooperative Energy Director of Economic Development Mitch Stringer, Stennis International Airport Director Chanse Watson, Hancock County Port & Harbor Project Manager Obie McClure, Hancock County Port & Harbor CEO Bill Cotter, Hancock County Port & Harbor Commissioner Aline Ward, Hancock County Port & Harbor Commissioner Bob Swanson, Hancock County Port & Harbor Commissioner David Holman and Mississippi Economic Development Council Executive Director Gwen Howard.

The Mississippi Economic Development Council (MEDC) announced in August that Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission’s (HCPHC) aerospace strategy project won the 2020 Community Economic Development Award (CEDA).

The CEDA program is a “Best Practices” program intended to recognize exceptional contributions of communities in Mississippi for business retention and expansion, business recruitment, community development and community involvement.

Home to NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center, Hancock County set out to become Mississippi’s cornerstone for space exploration and investment. Led by HCPHC, the aerospace strategy aggressively marketed and leveraged the multimodal assets that contribute to the aerospace industry.

The Port and Harbor Commission invested more than $7 million to grow its portfolio of hangars and technology parks to support growth. The commission also assembled businesses, elected officials, local leaders and other stakeholders to build a partnership cluster with a common goal for the county.

Through the aerospace strategy, Hancock County has grown 230 new jobs and seen nearly $100 million in capital investment in aerospace development. The average aerospace wage in the county is over $113,000, which exceeds the national average.

Additionally, the partnership cluster approach led to Pearl River Community College’s announcement of a $10 million workforce development center where the next generation of aerospace engineers and technicians will be trained.