Leland Speed heads up economic development in the state of Mississippi. Appointed by Gov. Barbour, Speed, a real estate developer and Jackson businessman, has the challenge of finding strategies to help brings jobs to a state with a significant percentage of its population living in rural areas or in small towns.
"We have to make our communities a desirable place to live," said Speed. "One of the main ways we can do this is recognizing the importance of the quality of life. We are not going to be able to attract jobs to a community if people simply don't want to live there."
Speed said he is optimistic about economic development in Mississippi. and says the state has a number of key factors working in its favor.
Also Tuesday in Dekalb, Pharma-Pak opened a 65,000 square foot warehouse. It's the third of five facilities the company plans to locate in Kemper.
Economic development officials say Pharma-Pak has been a huge part of the county's economic turnaround.
"About six years ago we lost almost all of our industry, but for the last two to three years we've been on the rebound," said Mike McGrevey, head of Kemper Economic Development Agency. "Momentum has been on our side and this is about the fifth new industry that we've had locate here in Kemper. We've got a problem. We don't have anymore available buildings and that's a nice problem to have."
Pharma-Pak currently has 77 employees and expects to create a total of 285 jobs by the end of 2006.