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New Survey Shows Strong Economic Optimism in Mississippi

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 27 May 2011 04:41pm | comments
MEC's Scott Waller

More Mississippi residents and business leaders are feeling optimistic about the state’s economy....that's according to the findings of a recent statewide survey. MPB' Jeffrey Hess reports that the survey is part of a larger effort to create an economic plan for the future of the Mississippi.

The Mississippi Economic Council is working on what they call Blueprint Mississippi, which is an effort by public officials and private business leaders to design a state wide economic plan.

MEC's Scott Waller says the statewide research survey found a strong vein of optimism about the direction of Mississippi's economy, especially over the next ten years.

"25% believe in 10 years we will be a hot economic development location. That even more people will want to come here and locate. And I think that is a shift in attitude and that is the first step in change perceptions. I think that is what you are seeing happening now," Waller said.

The Stuart C. Irby Company is a long standing Jackson based electrical parts distributor, that employees 150 people in the capitol city and 800 people nation wide...and is the type of company the MEC wants to keep in the state.

At the ground breaking for their new Jackson headquarters last week, Irby CFO John Honigfort says the company nearly outgrew Jackson and considered setting up their headquarters in another state.

"Recruiting from a larger city, those kind of things is obviously easier to do in a lot larger job market. But our history is here. We have been here since our inception with the corporate office. We have got ties to the city, ties to the people here. Our employees are here and it is the right thing to do to stay here," Honingfort said.

Irby also received benefits from the city, county and state to stay in Mississippi, and plans to continue to add jobs and expand their business.

Governor Haley Barbour says decisions by companies like Irby is an example of the state's economic recovery.

"Last month, even though our unemployment rate when up the number of people working went up by 7,000. It is just more people coming back into the work force. So we are seeing some job growth here. We have had job growth for a year or more," Barbour said.

The survey wasn't totally positive...A third of people surveyed believe Mississippi will not be able to shake its negative perception.

And access to a quality education for young Mississippians and workforce training adults, remains the top concern for residents and business leaders alike.

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MEC's Scott Waller


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