Editor’s Note: This post is part of a new special section called “Reinventing America,” which we launched Tuesday. As part of this effort, Micheline Maynard and more than a dozen Forbes contributors and staff writers will focus attention on the challenges facing towns, cities and traditional industries across the nation–and highlight the growing number of surprising success stories we’re seeing, too. Over the coming months we’ll have stories, rankings of who’s doing it right (and wrong), and, we hope, great conversations with readers, so please join in.
Think Mississippi’s past, and you might think of bitter civil rights struggles, or blues music, or the destruction its Gulf Coast experienced from Hurricane Katrina. Think Mississippi’s future, and you’re looking at a new American manufacturing center.
Mississippi’s drive to reinvent itself, underway for more than a decade, is fast picking up speed. Just last month, Nissan announced a major expansion at its big factory in Canton, outside the state capital of Jackson, which has transformed a hamlet into a bustling automotive city. The move will add 1,000 jobs and benefit Mississippi and Tennessee.