On March 16, 2016, high school juniors participating in the Hancock Youth Leadership Academy (HYLA) began their exploration of economic development in Hancock County. Their first visit was the Stennis Airpark area, encompassing 1800 acres, including Stennis International Airport and several domestic and foreign companies. Hancock Resource Center board chair, Charles Benvenutti, CPA, sponsored the session which included a tour of the manufacturing facility of Lazy Magnolia.
Students then traveled to Selex Galileo, Inc., where state-of-the-art technology is installed into aviation platforms. Students learned that right here in Hancock County this company provides a full service loop from design to technology insertion, upgrading aircraft with a new set of capabilities to enhance mission readiness and performance.
Stennis International Airport was the next stop on the tour, where students were greeted by Bill Cotter, Director of Aviation and David Turner, General Manager of Million Air, Mississippi’s newest luxury FBO. The tour included a trip to the fire station and control tower and ended with a delicious lunch at the new Jet Away Café.
The group then traveled to the Hancock County’s Public Safety Complex where they were given a presentation by Warden Brandon Zeringue, which included a tour of the prison.
The full day came to a close in Port Bienville, a 3600-acre park home to 18 industries and employing 1200 workers in Hancock County. The park boasts a Short Line Railroad with CSX interchange, 15 miles of rail infrastructure, deep water access and close proximity to the interstate system. A tour of Polychemie, Inc. provided the students with an up-close look at the international company that is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of water-soluble polymers.
“It was such a treat for us to tour new businesses at both Stennis Airpark and the Port because students are unaware of the technological and manufacturing potential of Hancock County. If these young leaders are thinking about STEM or skilled manufacturing, they now know they can work in these occupations right here at home,” said Rhonda Rhodes, director of HYLA. The economic development tour was the third session for the high school juniors participating in the HYLA program.
Picture: HYLA students at Polychemie, Inc. Front Row: (left to right): Ariana Rusher (Hancock), Marie Konopacki (Hancock), Abby Ladner (OLA), Amy Keith (Hancock), Jordan Ladner (Hancock)
Middle Row: Claire Lundgren (OLA), Adara Rutherford (Hancock), Brooke Rasco (Hancock), Haley Akers (Hancock), Morgan Lacoste (Hancock), Jasmine Martin (Hancock), Katie Ladner (Hancock), Elora Pierce (Bay High), Brooke Ladner (Hancock), Talia Jackson (Bay High), Minerva Alonso (Bay High), Jill Seymour (Bay High), Heather Durham (Polychemie). Back Row: Jim Bishop (Plant Manager, Polychemie), Bradley Lewis (Hancock), Tim Papania (Hancock), Tarah Necaise (Bay High), Kloe Lloyd (OLA), Dimetri Lyons (Bay High), Seth Taylor (St. Stanislaus), Andrew Elkins (St. Stanislaus),
Cooper Compretta (Bay High), Drew Burnett (St. Stanislaus), Cody Peranich (St. Stanislaus), Corbin Blanchard (St. Stanislaus)