There are numerous opportunities for the Mississippi defense industry to be more profitable and reduce risks by finding new customers.
The ability to quickly fabricate a scale model of a product or physical part is more and more critical in a business climate characterized by rapidly changing markets, the fast pace of technology change, geopolitics, capital markets, the political landscape and business stability at home and abroad.
With these techniques, design engineers are better able to efficiently perfect their designs in advance of final production, saving time, money and effort, resulting in higher quality finished products. Rapid prototyping is used in design and manufacturing, employing a wide range of materials including polymers and metals.
Tools and technologies used in rapid prototyping include 3D computer aided design (CAD), 3D printing or additive layer manufacturing. To support the demands of Mississippi businesses, the Mississippi Polymer Institute (MPI) at the University of Southern Mississippi and the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems (CAVS) at Mississippi State provide end-to-end support and services for industry and government.
The Mississippi Defense Diversification Initiative is seeking to identify and promote local and regional companies who are or can become part of the supply chain to deliver rapid prototyping.
Selling into International Markets
International markets provide an opportunity for defense companies to diversify. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reports sales of arms and military services is over $1.68 trillion annually and growing. US exports alone accounted for $210 billion in 2015. There are special challenges and concerns with exporting defense products, but there is a network in Mississippi that can help defense contractors that desire to export.
The International Trade Bureau at the Mississippi Development Authority helps Mississippi companies improve their business prospects through international trade. The division’s staff provides international business training, technical export assistance, and sponsors a variety of international trade missions.
The U.S. Commercial Service is the lead trade promotion agency of the U.S. government. U.S. Commercial Service trade professionals in over 100 U.S. cities and more than 75 countries help U.S. companies get started in exporting or increase sales to new global markets.
Lowering Transportation Costs
It is not uncommon for transport costs to account for 10% of the total cost of a defense products so lowering transportation costs can create a competitive advantage.
There are numerous means for Mississippi defense companies to reduce their transportations costs. The Port of Gulfport is a Strategic Port, as designated by the DoD, and serves as one of only 17 such ports in the entire US. With a close working relationship with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA).
Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) are secure areas under U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) supervision that are generally considered outside US territory upon activation. They help encourage activity and value-added at U.S. facilities in competition with foreign alternatives by allowing delayed or reduced duty payments on foreign merchandise, as well as other savings. Defense contractors who utilize imported component or export, should evaluate whether they can save costs through relief from inverted tariffs, duty exemption on re-exports, duty elimination on waste, scrap, and yield loss, or duty deferral. There are 4 FTZs and 45 subzones in Mississippi.
The University of Southern Mississippi's Center for Logistics, Trade and Transportation (CLTT) provides valuable professional development and applied research for the growing transportation and supply chain industry. One of its missions is to network government, industry, and the military and is active in the Transportation Research Board (AT035) Military Transportation Committee.
Getting Different Government Contracts
Mississippi Procurement Technical Assistance Program (MPTAP)
Mission: To enhance national defense and economic development of the state of Mississippi by assisting Mississippi businesses in obtaining federal, state, local government and commercial contracts.
About: The Mississippi Procurement Technical Assistance Program is an integral element of the Mississippi Development Authority, the chief economic development agency for the State of Mississippi. The program office operates as a bureau (Procurement Technical Assistance Bureau) in the MDA Minority & Small Business Development Division. The MPTAP delivers its services through a statewide network of procurement technical assistance centers with regional centers strategically located in Biloxi, Columbus, Southhaven, Meridian and Jackson. Private non-profit corporations (South Mississippi Contract Procurement Center and Northeast Mississippi Contract Procurement Center) operate the centers in Biloxi, Southhaven and Columbus respectively.
The MPTAP is partially funded by a cooperative agreement grant administered by the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) with matching funds provided by the Mississippi Development Authority, city and county government agencies, economic development organizations and private corporations. The program is a member of the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC).
The MPTAP provides its services only to Mississippi businesses. The services are provided at NO CHARGE.
For years, Mississippi’s economy has benefited from business opportunities and economic growth created with funding from the US Department of Defense. As changes – assumed, predicted or actual – occur, Mississippi is exploring how to offset its dependence on military spending by exploring new growth and diversification strategies that can mitigate decreases in funding.
Dual use products and technologies designed for a military purpose may have applicability in civilian markets and vice versa. Opportunities and resources exist for Mississippi companies to explore new markets and applications for products already developed.
Intangible assets play an increasingly important role as value drivers in today’s economy. It’s estimated that trillions of dollars’ worth of intangible assets already exist and are waiting to be harvested to foster innovation, economic growth, productivity and job creation on a global basis and even a modest effort can create tangible and measurable results.
Identifying a key intangible asset can be the catalyst for innovation that starts with the discovery of new products, services, or processes, proceeds through development and implementation, validation of technological feasibility, culminating in the commercialization of the new products or services.