Barbour: "Jobs a Priority"

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About 700 people are expected to participate in an invitation-only job summit initiated by Governor-elect Haley Barbour Dec. 15-16 in Jackson.

Barbour said the keynote speakers will be Federal Express founder and chief executive officer Fred Smith, a Marks native, and Andrew Card, the chief of staff to President Bush.

Others on the guest list include all state lawmakers, state and federal government officials, higher education leaders and representatives of the business industry.

Barbour says job creation will be a priority in his administration. During his campaign, Barbour blamed Gov. Ronnie Musgrove for the state's sagging economy.

The state saw 52,000 manufacturing jobs disappear in less than four years.

Barbour says the summit will examine workforce development, job training, tort reform and higher education. He says participants will explore ways to optimize what the state already has, including military bases, agriculture and catfish processing.