The Mississippi Energy Institute, partnering with the Mississippi Development Authority and seven local economic development organizations, led a tour this week from the Gulf Coast to the Delta evaluating potential sites for chemical manufacturing facilities.

The MEI-led tour signaled the start of a marketing effort the organization hopes will lead to chemical manufacturing companies locating operations in the state. Also on the tour were representatives of IHS Chemical, a global information company with experts in the energy sector and a resource for companies looking to site facilities. The tour started Monday, June 9, and concluded Thursday, June 12.

“The natural gas advantage in the U.S. is resulting in billions in new investment in chemical manufacturing, and we feel having the industry experts at IHS Chemical help us better market these sites across Mississippi will be fruitful,” said Patrick Sullivan, president of the MEI. “Getting around to each of the communities and having on-site, face-to-face visits was a good way for IHS to gain an understanding of what Mississippi has to offer. This was the first step in the process. The goal is to push our marketing information out by late summer and hopefully attract interest.”

The tour included stops in Jackson and Hancock Counties on the coast, Adams and Warren Counties in southwest and central Mississippi and Washington, Bolivar and DeSoto Counties in the Delta. All seven locations offer the critical electric power and natural gas infrastructure and transportation availability by water, which Sullivan said is important to chemical manufacturers.

MEI sponsors the annual Governor’s Energy Summit and at last year’s event energy consultant David Dismukes from Louisiana said the state should pitch itself as a potential home for chemical manufacturing companies. Historically that industry has primarily located in Texas and Louisiana, but with such a strong resurgence, companies may be looking at new areas.

But he warned, “Mississippi will have to compete for those opportunities – they will not materialize without a concerted, uniform effort. These projects offer very high quality construction and employment opportunities.”

Dismukes’ study pointed out that jobs in energy-based manufacturing, like chemicals, paid an average salary of more than $90,000 in 2012 in the U.S.