EMCC students visit local aerospace industry

Students in the EMCC business and marketing management program visited Golden Triangle Regional Airport and other local aerospace businesses Thursday to learn about the marketing side of the aviation industry. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)
Staff Writer

East Mississippi Community College students in the business and marketing management program at the Golden Triangle campus got some hands-on learning Thursday.

The group of 39 students went on a field trip to Golden Triangle Regional Airport and some of the surrounding businesses. The students visited Airbus Helicopters, the airport’s terminal and Nicholas Air, a private jet firm.
At the airport, Deputy Director Matt Dowell talked with the students about the airport’s marketing and about alternate ways of making money the airport turned to in the early 2000s economic crisis and its aftermath.

“You have the advantage of prices being basically the same as compared to going to Birmingham or Jackson, and you have the convenience of flying from your home or close to it and then flying back into our home by using our airport. Dowell said. “That is the market advantage.”

Dowell said during the economic crisis, the airport began leasing land on the airport to aerospace firms including Airbus Helicopters and unmanned aerial system manufacturer Aurora Fight Sciences. He said the companies had been successful at the airport and had spurred other industrial growth in the surrounding area.

“Things really changed for the airport, for our income, for the Golden Triangle in general, and we’re not done,” Dowell said. “The airport still has additional land that we have not rented out … There’s still about 2,500 acres some airport, some owned by the local communities to develop.”

EMCC business and marketing management instructor Joshua Carroll said this was the second time he had taken his students to the airport.

“ We are trying to basically engross them and expose them to everything this industry in the local area can offer them job-wise and prep them for that type of career,” Carroll said.

Carroll also said it was good for his students to hear from industry experts from the region.

He also said his academic program had tripled in size to more than 70 students.

“The program has a 100 percent placement rate where the students are I two years, getting really good jobs,” Carroll said. “One of the segments of my program is professional sales, so we have a good handful of students who have graduated and who have moved on into professional selling careers who have a future of getting $100,000 or better in pay.” Clayton Forrester, a freshman from Ackerman said the trip had been eye opening to him, particularly in regard to the amount of aerospace jobs available in the Golden Triangle.

“It’s really brought a whole new insight into what a business owner would need, and it’s not so much being a piece of the puzzle as it is putting the puzzle pieces together,” Forrester said. “That’s what I feel this class definitely helps put you into that category.”

Forrester said he planned to work in his family’s government contracting business after he finished college.

In November, 13 of Carroll’s students will travel to New York City for the DECA Engage Conference. At the conference, students will have the opportunity to take tours of New York businesses from their executives.