Aerospace corridor idea to bring new jobs to MS, LA

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of new jobs could be coming to Mississippi and Louisiana. There is a move underway to create a partnership between the two states.

Louisiana Senator David Vitter has proposed creating a Stennis-Michoud Aerospace Economic Corridor. The goal is to market and promote the neighboring NASA facilities together. The hope is to lure large aviation and aerospace companies and the jobs they bring to our region.

"For a corridor like this to work we need to erase the Pearl River and look at this as a region, not as two separate states," said Bobby Savoie with the Stennis-Michoud Corridor Alliance.

Leaders from Mississippi and Louisiana say they know Stennis Space Center, with the capability to test almost any rocket motor or commercial aviation engine, is a national asset with a lot to offer.

The Michoud plant in New Orleans East boasts 43 acres under one roof with a 210 foot tall ceiling at its highest point, allowing for oversized manufacturing.

"They are assets that both Louisiana and Mississippi can capitalize on in terms of getting new commercialized ventures to our states," said Louisiana Economic Developer Michael Olivier.

He and others say marketing the two NASA facilities together will increase the chances of large companies, like GE Aviation, setting up shop at one of them.

"Today GE Aviation is one of three of the largest manufactures of engines for jets and all sorts of aircrafts. They are in a growth mode. They've got a $5 billion backlog, and so they are growing and looking for new opportunities to have facilities to expand their operations."

"It's a natural fit to pull together and build off of each other's synergies," said Congressman Steven Palazzo.

Rep. Palazzo chairs the Space and Aeronautics sub-committee, and says he's behind the idea.

"The Louisiana Development Authority and the Mississippi Development authority are going to get together and come up with a plan on how we can sell the Michoud-Stennis Economic Corridor."

"The best way to do it is to get the two governors and their economic development agencies to cooperate by entering into a formal agreement that they will, in fact, promote and market these two facilities together and actually put resources behind it. That means people and money to actually do the marketing and promotions," Olivier said.

The next step is to get Governors Jindal and Barbour to sign off on the plan. And while that plan is still in the developmental stages, leaders in both states are working on a master plan to outline exactly how the program would work.

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