Tourism and Economic Development

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The leader of the Mississippi Development Authority addressed the Governor's Conference on Tourism Thursday in Philadelphia.

Leland Speed assured the delegates his agency recognizes the importance of what they do.

"When we can look statistically and see that tourism is not the largest service industry in Mississippi, it's the second largest; we're going to change that. It's going to be the largest," Speed said.

Later in an interview with Newscenter 11, Speed said Gov. Haley Barbour's national contacts will benefit the state in many ways.

"The day before yesterday, Haley had one of his old buddies, who is the CEO of one of America's largest companies, sitting in his office in Jackson discussing a little economic opportunity for Mississippians," said Speed.

Speed said all the pieces are in place for this state to progress.

"I think that right now, with the rising national economy, with Haley Barbour as our governor, with Thad Cochran coming in as chairman of the (U.S.) Senate finance committee and Trent Lott always ready to work for Mississippi, the stars are about as close to being lined up as we're going to get them," said Speed. "I'm very optimistic."