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High Tech Industries Bolster Economic Confidence

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 02 Mar 2011 12:55pm | comments
(starting from left) Holland, Brown and Swoope at a recent economic event

Mississippi's economic and legislative leaders are expressing growing optimism about the future of the state's economy. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the addition of new, high tech industries are driving the positive trend...

Mississippi's economy is only expected to grow by about one percent this year. Still, the recent addition of sophisticated companies making cars, helicopters and solar panels has some Mississippi law makers increasingly optimistic about the economic outlook.

Senator Terry Brown of Columbus says having high-tech industries should put Mississippi ahead of other states coming out of the recession.

"We have got Eurocopter making helicopters. Who would have thought it? We have PACCAR making truck engines. We have steel...making steel for everywhere. We have got Stark making unmanned drones. So we are doing good. We are drawing not only national but international attention," Brown said.

That is especially true in North Mississippi, where a number of those new companies have chosen to set up shop.

However, the delta and southwest areas continue to lag behind the rest of the state in attracting new industries.

Representative Steven Holland of Plantersville says they are trying to improve the workforce in those areas.

"There are teacher supplements for folks that will go teach in the delta. We give all kinds of incentives, above and beyond, for underserved areas. We have got programs perfectly design for those programs. The problem you have with that is, so many of the larger of the true blue chip industries just do not want to labor with a workforce that is not ready to go," Holland said.

The departing director of the Mississippi Development Authority Gray Swoope says when high-tech companies choose Mississippi; it helps change the perception that the state is not equipped to handle cutting edge industries.

"I think we have been competitive on the global scale. We have projects that we knew were not looking at Mississippi from the very beginning but we won. And we have also been very proud that we have been able to take Mississippi to a different level intentionally. That we are thought of globally," Swoope said.

Swoope, who is leaving the M-D-A this month to take a similar job in Florida, says as more industries move to the south Mississippi needs to compete for those companies 

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(starting from left) Holland, Brown and Swoope at a recent economic event


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