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Future uncertain for SemiSouth workers

October 20, 2012

By NATHAN GREGORY
citybeat@starkvilledailynews.com

Mississippi State University Vice President for Research David Shaw confirmed Friday that Starkville-based technology incubator SemiSouth Laboratories is closing down, but said he hopes a solution can be developed to retain employees who are affected.

A release issued Friday stated approximately 90 workers are being displaced as a result of the silicon carbide semiconductor company closing its doors. Calls to SemiSouth’s human resources department went unanswered as of press time. A closing date for the company is unknown at this time.

SemiSouth, which has been housed at the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park near MSU since it began business in 2001, specializes in electrical components for high-efficiency conversion applications.

The business produced power conversion applications, computing and network power supplies, battery chargers and aerospace applications among other components.

The company was formed by former MSU faculty member Jeffrey Casady and current MSU electrical and computer engineering professor Michael Mazzola.

Shaw said he was concerned to hear about the closing and the amount of jobs affected.

“We are of course concerned any time we lose a technology company,” he said. “We’re hopeful to see a solution developed that can retain these valuable jobs.”

In a separate release, MSU Director of University Relations Sid Salter said while MSU does not have a formal business relationship with the company, the university assigned the technology’s intellectual property rights to MSU Research and Technology Corp., a non-profit organization.
The rights hold a 2-percent stockholder equity for the university.

Salter said as owner of the Cochran facility, MSU has managed SemiSouth’s lease of is portion of the building, which provides $300,000 in annual lease revenue for the university.

In a Starkville Daily News report from February 2011, the company announced the arrival of a CVD reactor which company spokesmen said would help expand production capacity and open new job opportunities as a result.

Jennifer Gregory, Greater Starkville Development Partnership vice president for tourism and development, said she was disappointed to hear about SemiSouth closing its doors.

“SemiSouth was a great example of a startup company that seemed to experience success and employed many people in our community,” she said. “We are definitely disappointed in the news and we hope we can be a resource to some of these families looking for other job opportunities.”

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