3 On The Road: Lincoln County is doing big business - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

3 On The Road: Lincoln County is doing big business

Lincoln County has a vibrant array of economic drivers. Source: WLBT Lincoln County has a vibrant array of economic drivers. Source: WLBT
Lincoln County has a vibrant array of economic drivers. Source: WLBT Lincoln County has a vibrant array of economic drivers. Source: WLBT
Lincoln County has a vibrant array of economic drivers. Source: WLBT Lincoln County has a vibrant array of economic drivers. Source: WLBT
Lincoln County has a vibrant array of economic drivers. Source: WLBT Lincoln County has a vibrant array of economic drivers. Source: WLBT
Lincoln County has a vibrant array of economic drivers. Source: WLBT Lincoln County has a vibrant array of economic drivers. Source: WLBT
LINCOLN COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Lincoln County has a vibrant array of economic drivers. 

From healthcare to keep you well, to lumber for home building and motor vehicle high tech electronics to keep you going where you need to go. 

The sprawling Rex Lumber Company features a continuous swirl of activity trees being hauled in from timberland.

"We cut about 100 loads of logs per day through our saw mill, so I get in about 100 to 125 loads a day here at the mill," General Manager Doug Boykin said.

The rows of cut timber are enormous.

Rex Lumber is one of the largest manufacturers of southern yellow pine lumber in the nation, but it hasn't always been this busy. Back in 2008, the housing market hit bottom, shutting down this mill and related industries.

"Their families, they were without a job. Lifetime people who worked here," Boykin said. "I was one of the former owners of Columbus Lumber and when I had to go tell 135 people it was over, it was one of the hardest things I had to do in my career."

A Florida family purchased the business and renamed it Rex Lumber.

They grew it with on-site investments and more jobs. 

In 2011, a slow renaissance was in the making.

"We have a great timber forest around here to start with, secondly it provides about 700 direct jobs for the county and about 1,200 direct and indirect jobs here," Boykin said.

With 2,300 timberland owners in Lincoln County alone, the value of standing timber is $525 million --a gold mine in trees.

As the pine trees mature with time, the forest industry does as well. 

Brookhaven is also home to a nationally recognized rural medical facility called King's Daughters Medical Center.

"The patient experience awards that recognizes the top 100 hospitals in America, I think we are one of the only, maybe the only hospital in Mississippi to win that award, Women's Choice and then to be recognized by modern health care one of the trade magazines," CEO Alvin Hoover said. "We are one of the 100 best places to work."

The acute care facility is licensed for 99 beds, with ICU facilities. 650 people are employed here with some 50 to 60 physicians in attendance. 

The mission statement is quality healthcare, wellness in a christian environment.

"It lends itself to the employees or the organization, the physicians at the hospital that believe in the mission statement that live it," according to Hoover.

Like the timber industry, there have been challenges in healthcare.

"The challenges are immense. You know in the past couple of years you have seen higher insurance deductibles come into play, so when I got here it was not uncommon for somebody to have a $400 or $500 deductible," Boykin said. "Now everybody that comes through the door is looking at a $2500, $5000, $10,000 deductible. It's hard to collect all that money up front."

Reimbursements for rural hospitals are also financially challenging, still the mission carries on with specialized settings with labor, delivery, recovery and post-partum suites.

"The town that cared about itself wanted to be a little bit better. We are not a Jackson or Birmingham. We reach out to the people around us and having the hospital here helps folks realize we have just about everything we need right here in Brookhaven," Boykin said.

Another specialized economic driver in Brookhaven is APTIV, a massive plant with 288 workers. 

"First of all we are creating jobs, that is the main scope and this will bring for sure additional economic boost for this Brookhaven," according to plant manager Andreas DiVece.

Customized electrical components for US automakers are made here.

"This is an electrical center, it is supporting electricity in the compete car and it is communications with different components inside the cars," DiVece said.

Once the old Delphi plant, APTIV is now led by an Italian CEO, recognized for his global excellence leadership in 2017.

"We have a lot of employees that have a long history in this plant with knowledge and skill set, and this is the main look as why we are still here, because people are really engaged and we have great people on board."

The plant generates $150 million a year in revenue.

And the future looks electrified, with the focus on self driving cars that use artificial intelligence, sensors and GPS to get you where you are going.

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