Miss. Economic Outlook

Projections are good for economic development in Mississippi.
The head of the Mississippi Development Authority was the guest speaker for today's Business Before Hours in Meridian; he came bearing good news.

Appointed as director for the MDA a little more than a year-and-a-half ago, Brent Christensen says progress continues to be made in terms of economic development in Mississippi. In fact, last year the creation of more than 62-hundred new jobs within the state was announced, and as a result, for the fourth year in a row Area Development Magazine has listed Mississippi as the 9th best state in the nation to do business.

Christensen says numbers show that the ultimate payback to Mississippi is much more than what the state spends to attract jobs.

"For every dollar of public money that's put into an economic development project, what we've measured is an $11 investment from the private sector."

Christensen says that 11-to-1 ratio is up from 10-to-1, which it was the year prior. In an effort to keep up the momentum, the Mississippi Development Authority is asking lawmakers to increase that agency's budget by 3%.

"That equals a little over $600,000," says Christensen. "We're looking to open a foreign office in Korea. We're looking to add opportunities to help our communities build their sites and buildings to the point where they're site ready; they're economic development prospect ready. We're also looking to make sure that the folks out there, the communities within the state of Mississippi, have money for their tourism efforts, and for marketing festivals and other tourism opportunities as well."

By opening a foreign office in Korea, Christensen says the state of Mississippi will only improve its chances of landing more jobs related to the automotive and electronic fields.
The budget for the Mississippi Development Authority has not been increased within the last three years. Christensen is hopeful that this year will be different.

According to Area Development Magazine, Mississippi ranks: #2 in the nation for competitive utility costs and permitting speed, #5 for overall cost of doing business, and in 2012 it ranked #3 for competitive labor costs.