Musgrove: Too early to determine Nissan’s effects on area

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 21, 2000

It is still too soon to tell what effect a Nissan plant in central Mississippi will have on the local economy, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove told members of the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce Thursday.

Musgrove spoke at the chamber’s luncheon about the newly-announced automobile manufacturing plant and how it fits into his goals for economic development in southwest Mississippi.

&uot;I have said and you may have heard me say, southwest Mississippi may not have been accented the way it should have been or could have been in the past,&uot; Musgrove said.

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Through the Advantage Mississippi Initiative passed by the Legislature in August and focusing on priorities of economic development, education and public health and safety, Musgrove said he plans to change that attitude.

As part of the initiative, industries locating in the state’s &uot;gap counties&uot; – those high in unemployment and poverty – will receive special tax incentives.

Musgrove predicted &uot;spinoff&uot; industries of the Nissan plant will be drawn by the incentives to locate in areas outside the Jackson metropolitan area.

Quoting a Michigan study, Musgrove said 6.6 spinoff jobs are created for every one position within an industry.

While it is premature to tell what spinoff industries could locate in southwest Mississippi, Musgrove said Natchez and Adams County can prepare by meeting with Nissan officials in early spring as they tour communities throughout the state.

The Nissan deal will likely boost Mississippi’s standing in terms of attracting new industry.

Prior to enacting the economic development plan, Musgrove said, Mississippi ranked last among competing states for attracting new industry.

&uot;Mississippi was not making the long list 90 percent of the time,&uot; he said. But following the initiative, Musgrove said analysts rank the state first among competitors.

Besides industry, Musgrove said Mississippi has an opportunity for economic growth through the Internet, especially since it is the only state with its own direct link to the World Wide Web.

Through this asset, &uot;we can be on the front end as a state instead of the back end trying to catch up,&uot; he said.

Turning to the state’s budget, Musgrove said overspending is not to blame for a decrease in available funds.

&uot;What is happening is the economy is slowing down,&uot; he said, as it is in 27 other states. Musgrove said the state’s budget has been readjusted to compensate for the slowdown.

Musgrove also pointed out differences between his suggested budget and that of the Legislature, specifically an $11 million decrease in appropriations for education with which he does not agree.

&uot;We need a budget that focuses on the priorities, but is at the same time, a prudent one,&uot; he said.

Following the speech, Natchez Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith said he is confident the effects of the Nissan plant will be seen locally.

In way of preparation, &uot;the biggest things we could do, I feel like we’ve already done,&uot; Smith said, such as restructuring the Natchez-Adams Economic Development Authority and moving forward with new appointments.

Smith said he was pleased to learn that Nissan representatives will be visiting Natchez and hopes to present them with a compilation of what the city and county have to offer.

Calling Musgrove’s speech &uot;upbeat and optimistic,&uot; Virginia Salmon, Adams County Board of Supervisors president, said she too believes the local economy will benefit from the Nissan plant as it will all over the state.