Hartley Peavey is a proud man, proud of building the internationally famous company which bears his name.
"A lot of times people here in Meridian tend to be a little negative on Meridian," said Peavey. "The only thing I can figure is, that maybe they kind of have a bad feeling and they can't believe that somebody from Meridian can actually succeed here in Meridian and I think that's ``stinkin' thinkin'`` to be honest with you."
Peavey maintains that the slow economic growth in this city is due to a shortage of skills in its work force.
"When we, Peavey, are looking for skills, it's very difficult to find it in Meridian. And I hear the old refrain what Meridian needs is some high paying jobs. Well, that's true but the fact is high paying jobs equal high skill levels."
Peavey said he constantly runs into people who ask him about a job with Peavey for a son or daughter or nephew.
"I say O.K., what do they know how to do? You know what they tell me? Well, they're willing to learn. Well, I'm sorry. Peavey Electronics is not a university," he said.
Peavey questions whether the new industrial park is the answer to Lauderdale County's economic development problem.
"We're thinking that if we go build this big fancy park that they will come," said Peavey. "Well, we've got a 300,000 square foot multi-million dollar building we can't rent for a dollar a year. Listen. Listen to what industry is saying."
Peavey said he has been forced to move some of the company's production overseas.
"Smart people that work hard succeed," Peavey said. "Okay. There's a lot of smart people in the United States but a lot of people in the United States don't want to work anymore."
Is Peavey's Meridian operation still secure?
"As secure as I know how to make it," said Peavey, "but frankly I'm kind of upset that my taxes just went up, my water bill just went up and now I hear talk about annexing the industrial park out there. How many tax increases can any industry survive and be competitive?"
Peavey said he's concerned about American industry.
"If we give away the technology, and we're giving it away every day;
if we spend more than we take in, and we're doing it with our trade deficit every day; then connect the dots. The future I see, sadly, is that we started out being farmers," Peavey said. "And if something major doesn't change, we're going to end up being farmers again."