New Directions for UMMC, Viking Corp | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

New Directions for UMMC, Viking Corp

Gov. Phil Bryant says the new University of Mississippi School of Medicine could create 19,000 new jobs and generate $1.7 billion in economic impact by 2025.

Gov. Phil Bryant says the new University of Mississippi School of Medicine could create 19,000 new jobs and generate $1.7 billion in economic impact by 2025. Photo by Jacob Fuller.

On Monday, Gov. Phil Bryant and University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones helped usher in what they believe will be the first step to a healthier population in the state.

Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. joined Bryant, Jones, and other state and local leaders Jan. 7 for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the University of Mississippi Medical Center's new School of Medicine. Bryant hopes the 151,000-square-foot, $63-million facility will draw in some of the nation's top medical students and provide a vital tool in reversing the state's poor health trends.

"We just simply don't have enough doctors, and so people are dying," Bryant said at the ceremony. "This is for every citizen that needs a physician. This is for the young men and women in the white coats ... that seek to be a physician. And it is for the economy of this state."

The new facility will increase the school's incoming class size from 135 to more than 160 students. It will replace the university's current School of Medicine, which the state constructed in 1955. That, Bryant said, is unacceptable in 2013.

"We are going to move forward with the latest, greatest technology, the most-advanced medical school," Bryant said.

In October, Bryant authorized $10 million in Community Development Block Grants to help fund the facility. He hopes the state will receive more help from the federal government to finance the construction of the facility. The state will sell bonds for the remainder of the funding.

"This is taxpayers' dollars," Bryant said at the ceremony. "I know it's not free, but it's federal taxpayers' dollars that we can put toward the construction of this medical school."

Middleby Buys Viking for $380M

Middleby Corp. has been gobbling up culinary equipment manufacturers like popcorn lately. The company's latest acquisition is Greenwood-based Viking Range Corp.

The Elgin, Ill.-based commercial food-service and processing giant announced Dec. 31 that it had come to an agreement with Viking to buy the company and all holdings for $380 million in cash.

Viking manufactures high-quality, commercial-style cooking ranges and kitchen appliances for the residential market. It also operates nine cooking schools in six states. Viking has about $200 million in annual revenues.

The venture into the residential appliance market is a relatively new one for Middleby, which owns more than 40 brands in the commercial food-service and food-processing equipment industry.

"This acquisition strategically positions Middleby as a leading manufacturer in the sector with a top brand," Middleby CEO Selim A. Bassoul stated in a press release.

Recent acquisitions accounted for a $17.6 million increase in Middleby's total net sales during the third quarter of 2012.

During the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years, Middleby acquired food-processing equipment manufacturers Auto-Bake, Maurer-Atmos, Drake, Armor Inox, Baker and Stewart. Those acquisitions helped Middleby increase food processing equipment net sales by 99.7 percent in the third quarter of 2012, as compared to the previous year.

Bassoul said he plans to integrate some of Middleby's other brands, such as TurboChef, Jade and MagiKitch'n with Viking.

Viking operates four manufacturing plants and one distribution center, and employs 650 people, almost entirely in Greenwood. Viking operations will continue to be based in Greenwood.

"One of the things that was important to (President and CEO Fred Carl Jr.) was that what is happening here in Greenwood continues," Viking Director of Marketing Bill Andrews told the Jackson Free Press.

Carl, a Greenwood native, first began work on creating commercial cooking ranges for the home in 1980. In 1987, Viking shipped the world's first commercial-style home range. Carl serves as chairman, president and CEO of Viking Range. Middleby stated it plans to keep Carl as president and CEO in the near future.

Team Jackson Looks to the Future

Team Jackson is the product of teamwork from two sponsors: Downtown Jackson Partners and the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, and more than 100 partners who will meet once every other month to assure the city's leadership is headed in the same direction.

The organization will hold its next meeting Jan. 15 at 11:45 a.m. at The South Warehouse at 627 East Silas Brown St .The meeting will feature development and non-profit speakers. Team Jackson will provide lunch for those who make a $20 reservation. Anyone can join. The membership fee is $100. For more information, visit

Comment at Email Jacob D. Fuller at [email protected].

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