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The Economy in Mississippi; Businessmen Have Different Opinions

JACKSON, Miss.- Mississippi businessmen have varying, but still equally strong views on the state economy. Whether you agree with it or not, it is a factor that affects every resident of the state of Mississippi. We spoke with a couple businessmen today at the annual MEC PowerPlay meeting at the Convention Complex in downtown Jackson.

Gage Walker is the president of the Rankin county Renasant Bank. He says that the economy is slow, but it’s improving.

“I think, as a whole things are trending up for us,” Walker said. “At least what we’re seeing, new homes are under construction, new businesses are expanding, and you’ve got some startups that are happening. So, I’d say although it’s slow, it’s still a lot more positive than it has been the last couple years, for sure. Certainly, a lot better than what we were in 08-09.”

When it comes to the viewpoint of outsiders looking in on the state, he says that Mississippi appeals to a specific type of crowd.

“Certainly those folks that have a tendency to be a little conservative in their investment, would be interested in Mississippi, mainly because we’re insolated to a large degree from some of the national things you hear from an economy standpoint,” he added. “So I think you have some protection from some of the huge swings that the economy can see from a national level that we just don’t see in this area. Not that we don’t have downturns, we do, there’s just not to the degree, generally speaking that you see across the board, west coast, east coast type stuff.”

Others weren’t so positive. Independent consultant George Williams says the state economy is a direct reflection of what’s happening in Washington D.C., and that education is the biggest weakness.

“I think it’s struggling, just like the national economy is struggling,” Williams said. “I think we need to focus on education, but I don’t mean, just what we’re teaching in schools. We need to get kids in schools, and we need to keep them in schools. And we need to make sure that they learn a work ethic while they’re in school. They learn too much play and too much frivolous activity while they’re in school, and they need to really focus on a career and what it takes to build that career. You’ve got to get up in the morning, you’ve got to get dressed, and you’ve got to be willing to make the commitment long-term. Because success and work does not come overnight, it’s a long process. It’s a lifetime. And we’re not teaching these kids the lifetime requirement of work. And so I think that’s why our education program needs to focus on getting them in school. We’ve got a bad truancy rate.”

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