Joe Max Higgins: An American Economic Patriot
Every American who wants to bring our jobs home needs to watch 60 Minutes from December 4 and the story of Joe Max Higgins. Higgins, who lives in Mississippi, works for the economic development corporation for what is known as Mississippi’s Golden Triangle, made up of the cities of Columbus, Starkville and West Point.
Over the past 25 years, this part of Eastern Mississippi, lost 12,000 manufacturing jobs. Since 2003, Higgins has been able to bring back 6,000 good paying manufacturing jobs to the Golden Triangle, through a combination of hard work and doing his homework researching the companies that he eventually lured to his county and state.
Higgins is the great example of how the United States can be the great manufacturing base it once was. It can be done and Higgins is doing it, including bringing Japanese tire maker Yokohama to Mississippi to build a plant and create 2,000 jobs.
Higgins goal, or “the Holy Grail” as he called it, was to woo a Japanese company to eastern Mississippi. “If you can land a Japanese project, that is a testament to the amount of work that you can do, the product you can produce, and the level of expertise of your team because they’re extremely competitive, and they’re hard to win,” Higgins told 60 Minutes.
Higgins was able to get approval for the infrastructure improvements needed to entice companies to build their plants in the golden triangle. Water and sewer systems and a new roadway were built, at a taxpayer cost of $30 Million. That investment paid off, after Higgins studied up on Japanese culture and the tire manufacturing business and was able “to make an emotional connection with the company, and see themselves succeeding there.”
An abandoned Sara Lee processing plant which closed in 2007 was demolished, and pitched to be Yokohama’s new plant. “I said, ‘That plant is closed, and it literally ripped the community’s heart out,’” Higgins says. “I said, ‘You and your project could be the phoenix that could bring this community back.’”
Yokohama agreed to build a $300 plant in the Golden Triangle after receiving $300 Million in tax incentives from local county governments and the state of Mississippi. Yokohama also agreed to commit to 2,000 new employees or they would have to pay back the incentives.
The State of Mississippi estimated that the Yokohama deal cost them about $150,000 per job, money well spent according to Frank Spotorno, co-founder, bringourjobshome.com. “One thing we need to realize is that it will cost dollars, including tax dollars, to bring our jobs and factories home. We will have to invest in our infrastructure so that companies can build their new plants and factories here, but it is money well invested, and in the long run will pay for itself.”
Higgins was also able to bring Steel Dynamics, a high tech steel mill, to his Golden Triangle. The company used to have 4,000 workers operating their steel mills, but through technology and a high trained work force, it now requires only 650 workers to produce 3 million tons of steel per year.
Higgins was able to get Steel Dynamics to bring those 650 well paying, hi tech manufacturing jobs, to his Golden Triangle, with a total of 6,000 manufacturing jobs, with workers now hard at work and making it in the USA.
“For more than ten years, bringourjobshome.com has been fighting to get the American people to realize that it still makes sense to make it in the USA. Joe Max Higgins is what we call an American Economic Patriot, someone who puts his country and people first,” said Spotorno.
“Joe is a great example of the can do attitude that made our country great and can make our country great again. What Joe did for his community in Mississippi can be done on a national level. Our leaders in Washington should be working to bring jobs, and re-open factories in their communities. Perhaps President-elect Trump can bring Joe Max Higgins to Washington. We need more people like Joe working in Washington DC for us to bring our jobs home.”
Watch Higgins’ interview on 60 Minutes at http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/the-golden-triangle/