Metro Jackson emerging as force in advanced manufacturing automotive category

October 19, 2016



Jobs in the metro regions of Jackson and Nashville relating to the automotive industry grew faster than anywhere in the country the past two years, a Brookings Institution analysis of advanced manufacturing found.

Metro Jackson’s strong growth in auto-related manufacturing was enough to place it third nationally for growth in overall advanced manufacturing, behind only San Francisco and Nashville, the Brookings Institution says in a report released in August.


Brookings looked at advanced manufacturing across the nation from 2013-2015, It found Metro Jackson jobs in the specific category went from 16,204 to 18,756.

The 7.6 percent gain is surpassed only by San Francisco and Nashville, both with 7.9 percent growth. The Nashville and metro Jackson increases came in the automotive category of advanced manufacturing, a trend Brookings noticed across the country.


Brookings said the job creation growth it found “emanated from a narrower set of auto manufacturing and ‘tech’ service industries in the last two years.”

In fact, the analysis found just three auto industries and four digital services industries accounted for more than 60 percent of the nation’s advanced-sector growth over the time period.


The Nashville metro surveyed includes Murfreesboro, Franklin and Davidson county. It reports 14,076 jobs in parts manufacturing and 9,568 automobile manufacturing. Nissan’s North American headquarters is in Franklin. The company also has an assembly plant is in nearby Smyrna. General Motors has an assembly plant in nearby Spring Hill.


Advanced manufacturing is best defined by whether the products feature the latest technology, require high levels of design and are technologically complex, writes Industry Week’s Patricia Panchak.

Brookings’ analysis concentrated on a group of 50 R&D- and STEM (science-technology-engineering-mathematics)-worker intensive industries.

A look at metro Jackson’s level of advanced manufacturing jobs in the automotive sector at the start of this decade gives a basis of its progress. At the arrival of 2010, the metro area had 14,945 automotive sector jobs. It closed 2013 with 16,204, for a gain of 2.7 percent, according to the Brookings Institution report titled America’s Advanced Industries: New Trends.


Motor vehicle parts manufacturing accounted for 3,708 of the advanced manufacturing jobs with which metro Jackson ended 2015, 19.8 percent of the total. Growth in that category totaled 10.4 percent, Brookings said.

Vehicle body and trailer manufacturing accounted for 2,341 jobs in advance manufacturing metro workers held at the close of 2015.

That total made up 12.5 percent of the metro’s jobs in advanced manufacturing and marked a 12.3 percent increase during the two-year survey period.

Architectural, engineering and related services accounted for 2,182 of the jobs Brookings cited; computer system design and related services, 1,154; and data processing, hosting and related services 1,110. The jobs total in the data-processing-and-related-services category represents a 76.8 percent increase over 2010-2013 totals.


The report by Brooking’s Metropolitan Policy Program is used in support of the non-partisan organization’s goal of a metro-by-metro rejuvenation of the nation’s high-tech “advanced industries” sector.

“Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings has for the last several years been arguing that to truly rebuild America’s drifting economy, city and metropolitan area leaders—supported by their states and Washington—must work to build an “advanced economy that works for all,” said report authors Mark Muro, Siddharth Kulkarn and David M. Hart.


Many of the companies with new jobs tallied in the Brookings’ study somewhere along the line received a helping hand from the more-than-decade-old Mississippi State University’s CAVS Extension service. The Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, CAVS, set up shop in Canton around the same time as Nissan and has worked especially close with the companies, many of them advanced manufacturing startups, that are now suppliers and service providers to the Japanese car maker.

In recent years, it has been ramping up its work with suppliers for Toyota in Blue Springs and expects to be a go-to resource for companies setting up to serve the soon-to-arrive Continental Tire plant near Clinton, said Dr. Clay Walden, CAVS director.

“What we do is two kinds of engagements with industry,” Walden said.


One is professional development that includes 25 different training classes in automotive parts manufacturing and development. The other is technical assistance, including helping to model their computer operations, he said.

CAVS also hosts events for companies across the spectrum of advanced manufacturing, Walden noted, including an innovation expo on the Nissan campus that this year drew 60 exhibitors and more than 1,200 visitors.

CAVS also works closely with the Mississippi Automotive Association on training programs and development of technology projects, he said.