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IEDC Member Featured on CBS 60 Minutes for Achievements in Economic Development

Joe Max Higgins highlighted for creating 6,000 manufacturing jobs in Mississippi’s Golden Triangle



Joe Max Higgins, CEO of the Golden Triangle Development Link and a member of IEDC, was featured on CBS 60 Minutes on Dec. 4 for his achievements in manufacturing job growth in Mississippi’s Golden Triangle.

Correspondent Bill Whitaker interviewed Higgins in Mississippi and the segment shows the development Higgins has brought to the area. As one of the poorest regions in the country, parts of the Golden Triangle reached unemployment rates of up to 20 percent during the Great Recession. This was due in part to thousands of manufacturing jobs leaving the area as companies offshored to cut costs. Learn about reshoring. See how and why companies are returning their operations to American cities.

“A lot of those people just left. They were so devastated by Artech’s closing, Flexible Flyer’s closing, Blazon Tube closing, how ‘bout that?” Higgins told CBS 60 Minutes. “I mean, just bam, bam, bam, the hits just keep on coming.”

Higgins is credited with bringing 6,000 jobs to the tri-county area since 2003 and attracting $6 billion of advanced industry including the Steel Dynamics steel mill and the PACCAR engine plant. Since most citizens of the Golden Triangle are not skilled in advanced manufacturing, Higgins spearheaded a program with a local community college to provide customized training for each plant and every manufacturer coming in. IEDC recently released a workforce training manual, which economic developers can reference for ideas and best practices related to building working-learning systems.

The segment notes that Higgins’ success is a product of his ferocious, relentless attitude toward making the Golden Triangle a better place.

“I tell our staff, ‘If you leave our office and-- and you didn’t do somethin’ to make our place a better place today, then you need to find another job,’” Higgins said.

So far, in addition to the influx of jobs, tax revenue has gone up and more advanced industry projects are in the works. Higgins’ appearance on CBS 60 Minutes brings awareness to the profession of economic development as a whole, potentially making way for new successes in other areas. The video segment and transcript can be found at www.cbsnews.com/news.

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