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By RUSSELL TURNER
Since opening for business, Cutting Edge Meat Company in Leakesville has been covered up with livestock from area producers. On Friday, the sparkling new meat processing plant was covered up with state and local elected officials, area business leaders and other friends and neighbors who were on hand to celebrate CEMCO’s opening as the first business in the Greene County Industrial Park.
The large group of guests, which included Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson, Southern District Public Service Commissioner Dane Maxwell, all members of the Greene County Board of Supervisors and other local government officials, was on hand for the company’s official Ribbon Cutting.
“I want to thank y’all for what you are doing,” Commissioner Gipson said during his remarks to the crowd. “It is a historic day.”
The commissioner was one of a handful of guests who spoke at the event, which included tours of the facility and lunch for attendees. He shared a story about pulling into his office in Jackson and meeting CEMCO owners Scott and Michelle Hicks, who had made the trip to learn about initiatives through the Gipson’s office meant to spur more local agriculture development throughout the state.
“We can’t rely on folks on the other side of the world to feed us Americans,” Gipson added. “We can’t rely on four global meat packers that control the industry to feed us here in Mississippi. So, today I am proud to be here to help cut the ribbon on this place.”
“What you see here today is the first step in Mississippi’s response to the global supply chain crisis that we see unfolding before our eyes. This is a great day for Mississippi farmers and cattlemen, because this is another way to bring value to our farms in a very difficult time.”
Gipson called Greene County a leader in Mississippi in regards to agriculture and forestry and added that CEMCO further ingrains that fact.
Gov. Tate Reeves had planned to attend, but had a change of plans due to ongoing business back in the state capitol. But, the governor sent a message that was delivered by
Greene County Economic Development Coordinator Danny Box, who served as emcee for the event.
“While today’s grand opening may not be a huge win for vegans, it is for Mississippi’s livestock producers and retailers, consumers, and the residents of Greene County,” said Box, reading from the governor’s statement. “Your work to answer the need for additional meat processing facilities in our state helps to bolster this market and allows Mississippians the ability to access high-quality local products more easily.”
“I know an incredible amount of work has happened behind the scenes to arrive at this exciting day. Because of Cutting Edge Meat Company’s decision, Greene County will see over a million dollars in new capital investment and over a dozen good-paying jobs for Mississippians.”
Box took the opportunity to correct the governor’s statement, saying that CEMCO already employs over 25 local people and will be adding more in the future.
For their part, Scott and Michelle Hicks, their family members and staff were gracious hosts. In his remarks from the podium, Scott Hicks thanked a long list of people who helped bring the project to fruition. In conversation while showing off the facility, Hicks said he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of interest from livestock producers and by the way his business was already growing. He did not commit to any specific plans, but did say he and Michelle were already looking at expansion.
CEMCO is open Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Locally-produced meat, including freezer packs with assortments of meat products, is available through the company’s retail store. For more information about the retail offerings or how to have meat processed at the facility,give them a call at (601)394-2390 or stop in and see them at 180 G.L. Dearman Industrial Park Road in Leakesville. You can also find them online at www.cuttingedgemeat.com.
Photo by RUSSELL TURNER / Herald Editor