HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - One company has spent a decade testing some of the world's most cutting edge jet engines right here in South Mississippi. The Rolls-Royce outdoor jet engine testing facility at Stennis Space Center was the first of its kind built outside of the United Kingdom.
"It's really the people that make the facility work," said Hamish Guthrie, general manager of the facility.
According to Guthrie, employees have logged more than 7,000 hours testing nine different engines.
"We get huge support in the local area from Hancock County, from a state, but also a federal level to support us, and we have a fantastic available workforce locally that enables us to have the great team that we have," said Guthrie.
A lot of the support comes from the county's Port and Harbor Commission. CEO of the commission, Bill Cork, said Rolls-Royce has already invested around $100 million in the county, and he believes that could just be the beginning.
"They're talking about additional expansion and work. Some of the great new aircraft that are coming out are going to be powered by Rolls-Royce engines, and all that testing is going to come right through Hancock County," said Cork.
Local leaders were happy seeing the success, and so were those on the national front. U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker said an anniversary like this is a great time to look to the future.
"Much as we're doing with the state bicentennial celebration, we're looking ahead at the next 50 years, next 100 years. Today, we're looking at what innovations might take place, what job growth might take place here at Stennis Space Center, right here at Rolls-Royce," said Wicker.
Rolls-Royce employs more than 50 people at the Stennis test facility.