After Mississippi's Governor-elect Haley Barbour finished naming Leland Speed to head the state's economic development effort Thursday, he was asked about the plan for Mississippi to join forces with Alabama to bring a major manufacturer into this area. He said he totally favored the idea.
"I think bi-state industrial development often makes a lot of sense and one of the examples of where it makes a lot of sense is east central Mississippi and west Alabama working together," said Barbour. "So Gov. Riley and I are both going to speak at the meeting in Livingston, Ala., in February. Leland and economic development people will be there and I am committed to try to make it work."
"Clearly, if you look back, some people have had the idea, well gee, why would we want to be for something that helps Alabama? The site might actually be in Alabama," Barbour said. "Well, think how great FedEx has been for Mississippi. Hundreds and hundreds of Mississippians work at FedEx, even if it happens to be in Memphis. I'd rather it be in Mississippi, but I'd rather it be in Memphis to provide jobs for us than for it not to be, than for it to be in Little Rock or Timbuktu."
Barbour and Riley will meet Feb. 6 to work out details of the joint effort.
"So I think the idea of multi-state/bi-state development is a very sound idea and if you can put together the influence of Thad Cochran and Trent Lott with that of Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions in the United States Senate, then you're parlaying the power that we've got by multiplying it times the power Alabama's got. And I think that's a good way to try to increase what we're doing," said Barbour.
Speed said later he is convinced foreign-owned automobile manufacturers would build additional plants in this country and endorsed east Mississippi-west Alabama as an ideal potential location.
In other business Friday, Barbour announced several appointees to his cabinet. Former U.S. Attorney George Phillips will lead the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. He replaces former TV executive Frank Melton.
J.K. "Hoopy" Stringer will be the state fiscal officer in the Barbour administration.
Don Taylor was tapped to be director of the Department of Human Services.
Barbour reappointed Charles Chisolm as head of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. Barbour said he would name a state Medicaid director on Monday.