Mississippi is strategically positioned in the center of the fastest growing region in the United States.
The state is the gateway to all major U.S., Canadian, and Latin American markets, with inland water ports on the Mississippi River and Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, and deepwater ports in Gulfport and Pascagoula.
Mississippi is on the move with a transportation network that is in place and on-line to ensure efficient access to the markets of the United States and the world. Highways in Mississippi are continuously being improved. In fact, the Mississippi highway system was recently ranked as best in the mid-South.
The Economic Development Highway Fund authorizes the Mississippi Development Authority to identify road construction necessary to make business sites accessible to other highways and road facilities. General obligation bonds are available to cover expenses incurred on the construction and improvement of highways. Companies with aggregate assets of $1 billion in the state that make a $20 million capital investment, and businesses with capital investments of at least $50 million that engage in agricultural, aquacultural, maricultural processing, distribution, warehousing, manufacturing, or research and development qualify for this program.
Through the Access Road Program, MDA designates locations for the construction of road or highway links connecting industrial sites to existing highways. These links are usually built in tenth-of-a-mile increments but are funded through the highway fund of the Mississippi Transportation Commission, and, as appropriate, reimbursed by the Mississippi Development Authority.
Mississippi's highway system includes five interstate highways and 14 federal highways. Since traffic congestion is minimal, industry experiences little lost time in highway shipments and can draw on a wider labor force area. Commuting distances up to forty miles are common throughout the state.
Much of Mississippi’s early growth is credited to the railway system that traverses the state. These railways are part of the national network providing quick movement of goods and passengers to all parts of the nation. Twenty-one rail systems serve Mississippi with 2,541 miles of track. Their comprehensive rail services include carload, trailer on flat car, container on flat car, and mini-bridge shipments. In addition, Mississippi’s railways integrate the state’s transportation systems by linking river, highway, and air distribution points.
The merger of the Canadian National and Illinois Central railroads and a long-term marketing alliance with the Kansas City Southern created an efficient new rail link all along the NAFTA corridor. The agreements link together almost 25,000 miles of track stretching from both coasts of Canada through the central United States to the Gulf Coast, Texas and Mexico.
Surrounded by three navigable waterways, Mississippi offers a unique transportation advantage. With the Mississippi River to the west, the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, the nearly 800 miles of commercially navigable waterways provide economical and efficient access to national and international markets.
Two deepwater ports are located on the Gulf of Mexico providing Mississippi an outlet to worldwide commerce. Pascagoula, the largest industrial tonnage port in the state, provides a 38-foot channel depth for ships calling at the 3,100,000 bushel grain elevator or loading at one of the nation's largest and most modern refineries. In addition, general cargo transit warehouses and a freezer warehouse are available. CSX Railroad provides rail service at each of the port's facilities.
The Mississippi State Port at Gulfport, a state-owned port, has a 36-foot channel depth for ships calling at the freezer warehouse or transit warehouses. Gulfport has the nation's largest banana/tropical fruit handling facilities. Two container cranes are available for handling container or bulk shipments. A 30-acre container yard provides storage for the scheduled container ships sailing to Europe and Central and South America. Foreign Trade Zone #92 is located on the dock providing distribution service to major importers. KCS Railroad provides service at the port.
The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, stretching from Florida to Texas, is the sheltered water barge route along the state's southern border, with barge facilities available at Pascagoula, Moss Point, Biloxi, Gulfport, and Port Bienville.
The major Mississippi River ports in Natchez, Vicksburg, Greenville and Rosedale are each equipped with cranes, transit sheds for general or containerized cargo, and truck and rail facilities. Smaller ports are located at Yazoo City and Greenwood on the Yazoo River, which enters into the Mississippi River at Vicksburg.
The Tennessee-Tombigbee Inland Waterway, a 234-mile system of canals and locks along the Tombigbee River in northeast Mississippi, provides a shorter, more convenient route from Mid-America to the Gulf of Mexico. Ports at Yellow Creek and Columbus are equipped with cranes, transit sheds, and truck and rail facilities.
Mississippi has 78 publicly owned and four privately owned airports which provide excellent facilities for aircraft used by individuals, industry and private operators. Fifty-three of these airports are attended, and seven have scheduled air carrier service. The remaining 20 airports provide services on call.
Businesses and individuals throughout Mississippi have convenient access to three major commercial airports. The Gulfport-Biloxi Regional Airport, part of Foreign Trade Zone 93, is served by four national airlines – American, Continental, Delta, and US Airways. The New Orleans International Airport is served by eight national airlines and is a U.S. Customs port of entry. The Memphis International Airport is served by seven national airlines and is a major United States hub airport. All three major commercial airports are served by all-cargo airlines. Commuter service is able at several other regional airports in the state.