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MDA Head: State Must Work Together To Lure New Industry

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 29 Oct 2012 04:48pm | comments
MDA director Brent Christensen

The head of Mississippi's economic development agency says the state needs to work as a whole to attract new industry and jobs. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the number of employed Mississippians is the same today as during the depths of the recession.

The Executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority says in order to attract new industry and jobs regions of Mississippi will have to work together instead of competing.

During a web conference Monday morning, Brent Christensen says one of the strongest assets for job growth in the state is in advanced manufacturing.

"And with that advanced manufacturing, I think you are going to see re-shoring opportunities. As businesses realize that by off-shoring their manufacturing they are not exactly seeing all of the benefits, all of the advances, and all of the savings that they thought they were going to see by off-shoring. And start to bring many of those jobs back," Christiansen said.

During the most recent legislative session, state law makers failed to pass a bond bill... where the state borrows money for various needs.

The MDA uses bonds for infrastructure grants, work force training, and company incentives.

Christensen says not having a bond bill limits his ability to attract companies.

"Some of those tools that we have had in the past for economic development are dwindling. And other states are using that against us. So as we need to make sure as go into the legislative session that we are continuing to retool and make sure we have all the programs and services we need to be competitive," Christensen said.

Unemployment in Mississippi remains above 9-percent, and has been above that level for more than 3 years.

State Economist Darrin Webb says the recession has been characterized by very sluggish growth, but improvements in the national economy over the next year could boost state employment.

"We are seeing some improvement. We are seeing nationally as well as in the state some improvement in the housing sector. And that has been a big drain on the economy, so if that is growing that is a big plus for us. So my guess is as we look forward into the fourth quarter we will begin to see us pick up a little big and then begin to grow into calendar year '13," Webb said.

The newest national unemployment numbers will be released on Friday...with Mississippi's unemployment data being released a week later.

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MDA director Brent Christensen


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