Import-Export: Tupelo Money

How the birthplace of Elvis turned itself into a magnet for international business investments

Tupelo, Miss., is five hours by road from the closest seaport. It's two hours from an international airport. And it's nearly an hour's drive from an interstate highway. If you were trying to get to any of those places, you wouldn't start here. Tupelo is isolated in the hilly, northeastern corner of the poorest and least educated state in the union. If you've ever heard of Tupelo, it's probably as the birthplace of Elvis Presley. It seems an unlikely magnet for foreign investment and export employment. But that's exactly what it has become.

The city's nighttime population of 36,817 more than...

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