Panola Industries

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Panola in ‘hot spot’ for new industries

By Rupert Howell

“I want to congratulate you for the great track record you have developed,” Jay Moon told a group of Panola County manufacturers and economic developers gathered last Thursday at the Panola Country Club for a seasonal meeting of local manufacturers.

Moon is president and CEO of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, an organization that serves approximately 2,200 manufacturers, processors and distributors across the state.

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Moon was speaking of recent expansions, and additions to the manufacturing community in the Panola County area calling the region “pretty much of a hot spot,” while mentioning GE and the announcement earlier that day that the Toyota project was again underway in Northeast Mississippi at Blue Springs.

Moon said the announcement will have a positive impact in this area and the state.

Moon noted that not as many manufacturers were lost during the current economic downturn as “we thought we would,” and credited companies’ willingness to adapt by “getting leaner.”

He said some were beginning to add workers back to their pay rolls but later said some were still waiting to rehire because of “uncertainty.”

He blamed the uncertainty on concern about pending cost of doing business and legislation then mentioned proposed health care, carbon tax, card check, EPA regulations and Labor Law regulations as potential additional cost factors.

Concerning pending national business legislation he said most will have a negative impact on business, stating, “None of it is good.”

Moon spoke of state legislation, praising the $100 million Workforce Development Training that his organization supported.

He also listed several areas were his organization would lobby, including eliminating franchise tax in its current form, elimination of a pollution control equipment tax, and harmonizing state and federal tax codes for commuter sharing.

He told the local group of manufacturers that his organization is not against fees, but fees need to be paid by those who benefit.

Moon said government needs to get “leaner and meaner” and noted that government employment hasn’t dropped during the current recession like business employment dropped.

On a more positive note, the manufacturing association president said, “We’re starting to see business improve. Manufacturers are beginning to build inventory and hire backs are increasing.”

The MMA provides members with access to health and worker’s comp insurance, while working as a pro-business lobbying arm and supports pro-business candidates through its political action committee.

Moon and Panola Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons formerly worked with Mississippi Development Authority. Panola Partnership hosted the event with Simmons introducing Moon.