What Does it Take to Succeed?

Plain and simple, Meridian Rotary Club guest speaker, Peavey Electronics founder and CEO Hartley Peavey, said the problem is an unfriendly business environment.

"We have the highest gasoline prices. We have some of the highest taxation," said Peavey. "We have the highest medical costs in the south."

Peavey said the inability to compete with country's such as China, which can pay workers around 30 cents an hour has forced even his company to close at least three U.S. plants within the least three years.

However, he says Meridian's not alone.Within the past three years, Peavey said lagging competitiveness on the nation's part as a whole has led many American manufacturers to close plants in the U.S. and reopen overseas.

This includes some of his own plants in Morton and another now in the process of closing in Foley, Ala.

The good news is this year alone the closures have led to the creation of at least 130 new jobs at Peavey plants in Meridian. Peavey said the bad news is it can be difficult to fill such positions because of a lack skilled workers.

"The sad fact is there are many people in Meridian skilled but they already have a job and you cannot grow unless you have skilled people," Peavey said.

However, local business development officials have a different perspective.

"What the manufacturers we've talked to tell us is that, we can basically teach the technical skill sets. What we need help is on the behavioral issue, such as does the employee show up on time?" said Wade Jones, president of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation.

Meanwhile, Peavey says his company could soon create more jobs in this area. The company is set to partner with Jack Daniels and Hard Rock Cafe to develop customized equipment.

As for exactly how many jobs and when they could be created, Peavey says its still too early to say.