Furniture industry hopes to find stimulus money

The meeting will be at 3 p.m. at the Tupelo Furniture Market in the buyers lounge, Building III. Furniture industry representatives and economic development

By Dennis Seid
Daily Journal
TUPELO – No promises have been made, but Mississippi Furniture Association President Ken Pruett hopes 1st District Congressman Travis Childers can deliver some good news.
Childers and his staff will be meeting with furniture industry officials today to talk about the possibilities of obtaining federal stimulus money.
“There’s no program in the stimulus package that mentions the furniture industry, but we’re meeting to see what might be available,” Pruett said. “We’re going to explore ways of getting some of that money.”
The meeting will be held at 3 p.m. at the buyers lounge in Building III at the Tupelo Furniture Market.
The furniture industry has lost some 1,000 jobs since the start of the year, Pruett said, and it needs as much help as it can get.
Earlier this year, the MFA had pushed a bill through the state Legislature that would have provided incentives for the retention and creation of cut-and-sew jobs, but that bill was vetoed by Gov. Haley Barbour. The MFA plans to bring the bill back at the Legislature’s next session.
In the meantime, Pruett and MFA members say they’re very interested in what stimulus money could be available.
“We want the money to be used for the furniture industry,” Pruett said. “It might be to help the Tupelo Furniture Market or it might be to help companies expand or to help with funding for Foreign-Trade Zone application. If we can get any money, where it goes will be decided by the furniture industry, not the state or some agency.”
Pruett said he’s spoken to several banks and economic development organizations that are interested in helping work out the details, should money become available.
“Again, we’re not going in thinking we’re going to get any stimulus money, but we won’t know for sure if we don’t ask,” Pruett said.
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal