Mississippi Economic Council

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 19, 2008

State ‘blown away’ by local economics

 By John Howell Sr.

Mississippi Economic Council President Blake Wilson revealed the state’s secret weapon during his Batesville stop Tuesday on the 26-city MEC Marathon Tour.

“Our interconnectivity sets us apart,” Wilson told an overflow crowd at the Panola Country Club. “It’s our secret weapon.”

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Wilson spoke about advantages the state presently possesses as well as changes needed in state law to make its climate more business friendly. Citing the AHEAD Highway program adopted in 1987 when Mississippi ranked worst in the nation for highway accessibility, “We’re now best in the south,” he said, as a result of highway construction during the last 20 years.

Wilson described the state’s inventory tax as “very regressive, but it creates a lot of revenue.”

“We’ve got to find another source of revenue,” Wilson said, citing the recent study by the Governor’s Tax Commission which is expected to provide the basis for tax overhaul in the Mississippi Legislature next year.

The MEC president also called for reforms in corporate law and limited liability corporations to streamline business creation and incubation in Mississippi. Wilson also suggested the creation of “business courts” to expedite legal matters involving “business to business” transactions.

Wilson said that he is a native of Delaware where two-thirds of the Fortune 500 companies are headquartered because of the business-friendly state laws.

Wilson made brief audio-visual presentations of statements from Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman, Barksdale Reading Institute CEO Claiborne Barksdale and State Superintendent of Education Dr. Hank Bounds, all of whom share priorities with the MEC on state issues.

“We’re honored that you have selected Batesville” as a stop on the MEC’s tour, Panola Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons told Wilson during his introduction.

“Your part of the state is really getting attention,” Wilson said. “People are blown away by this accomplishment with GE Aviation.”

“I’m so excited to be in this state,” said the MEC president. “Here in Mississippi the door of opportunity is open.”

Wilson said that he came to Mississippi 11 years ago and plans to stay.

“I moved my mother down here,” he said.