The Franklin Furniture Institute at Mississippi State University, a $4 million facility that opened in January 2004, is shutting its doors at the end of July due to budget cuts.
FFI director Bill Martin, in an email, said:
It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that the Franklin Furniture Institute at Mississippi State University will be ceasing operations of its current state effective July 31, 2017 mainly due to state funding cuts. All personnel working in the Institute will be eliminated effective that date.
I have enjoyed working with all of you and feel that together we have made a positive difference in the industry, region and state. You have broaden my perspective and knowledge over the past 10 years and I have learned to appreciate what the Industry has to endure to be successful. We identified a lot of opportunities and found solutions to take advantage of them. I have enjoyed seeing the collaboration between public and private sector entities to find common solutions. I hope you keep it going.
We will continue to work on sustaining the Furniture Academy and that information will be forth coming prior to July 31.
The institute’s closure puts four full-time employees out of work, and they apparently will not be absorbed by the university, Martin said.
The university provided 40 percent of the funding for the institute, he said, with the rest coming from grants.
“And those have dried up a bit, too,” he said. “So that combination didn’t do us any favors.”
When the center opened more than 13 years ago, it was the culmination of more than two years of work. It had formerly been the Institute for Furniture Manufacturing and Management, and was a multi-disciplinary effort involving Mississippi State’s colleges of Business, Forest Resources, Engineering and Architecture.
It’s formal mission was “To help sustain and increase the competitiveness of the furniture and related industries in Mississippi and beyond.
Hassell Franklin, the founder and CEO of furniture manufacturing company Franklin Corp. in Houston, donated more than $1 million toward the center.