The Clarion-Ledger, 3/17/8

Billions of dollars in federal contracts awarded to Mississippi industries and a rocketing pace of exports to the Middle East serve as a reminder that, for those not under attack, war is good for business.

International Truck and Engine is one of the state’s premier examples. Workers at its West Point plant are building more than 4,400 armored trucks on federal contracts worth $2.73 billion. Employment jumped from 70 to 850 in little more than a year.

Statewide, military contracting in wartime and peace means business for original-equipment makers such as International and shipbuilder Northrop Grumman, jobs for hard-hit local economies and trickle-down revenue for parts suppliers and raw materials processors.

Mississippi developers for years have made recruiting military contractors a priority. The Mississippi Development Authority has set defense, aerospace and shipbuilding as pillar industries for the manufacturing sector. More than 55 defense-related manufacturers operate in the state, employing an estimated 14,000 people.