Mar 17, 2017 10:54 PM
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Later this month the Mississippi Development Authority is taking business representatives from the Magnolia State to the Middle East. The trade mission gives Mississippians a chance to pitch their products and services overseas.
One company based in Biloxi hopes the trip will turn into a chance to help thousands of people.
"They want to talk to us about the refugee crisis which is something that we're very interested in with it being the largest humanitarian crisis in world history," said Ric McCluskey.
McCluskey is heading up a group making a trip to the Middle East. Along with taking part in the Mississippi Development Authority's Middle East Trade Mission, McCluskey has independently set up meetings in several countries including Jordan, where he plans to pitch ideas to accommodate Syrian refugees that have flooded across the border.
"I've got experience over there and I've done disaster relief as far as Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans," McCluskey said. "We have a good idea of how these camps need to be set up."
McCluskey served with the Marines in Iraq. He and other veterans have developed portable housing units called Castle Enclosures, He hopes those units will be able to turn into homes for the refugees.
"Only 20% of the refugees stay in refugee camps," McCluskey said. "They've been moving toward the cities, which that's been causing rent prices to go up. I would not be surprised if we had private investors hear about this and say we want to build a housing complex something like a trailer park over there with these units which will cause the rent prices everywhere else to go down too."
If the Middle East buys into McCluskey's idea he believes the housing units could also be built by refugees. He also said South Mississippi could see the benefits.
"No matter what happens over there it's going to cause us to grow our work force here," McCluskey said. "Even if it's just support, but support, manufacturing and everything we would have to grow and provide jobs for people in South Mississippi overnight."
According to Jeff Rent with the Mississippi Development Authority, the MDA's International Trade division supports Mississippi businesses mainly made up of small companies. Each year 8-10 business development missions are scheduled around the globe.
As result of the trade missions, Mississippi small businesses made approximately $6 million in immediate sales and $56 million in projected sales.
For more information on the Mississippi Development Authority visit: https://www.mississippi.org/.
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