State furniture officials lobby Bryant for support

PONTOTOC – While the state’s furniture industry didn’t get what it wanted last year, leaders say they haven’t stopped trying.
And next week, they’ll host a very important guest – Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, who’s expected to run for governor in 2011.
Bryant will meet with representatives of the Mississippi Furniture Association on Dec. 16, visiting a furniture plant or two before attending an industry luncheon at the Tupelo Furniture Market.
“We’re planning to feed 150 or more at the luncheon,” said MFA President Ken Pruett. “We’ve invited our area state legislators and we’re asking industry representatives, from vendors to manufacturers, to also attend this very important meeting.”
Last year, the MFA was able to get a bill through the state Legislature that would have provided tax credits for companies to keep cut-and-sew operations in the state.
But Gov. Haley Barbour vetoed the bill, saying it was unfairly targeted to one industry and that the tight state budget would not allow it.
Furniture industry officials insist that the tax credits wouldn’t kick in until jobs were retained or created and that it would not cost any up-front state money.
They hope to bring the legislation up again in January. They also think they have Bryant’s ear, having invited him to his first Tupelo Furniture Market last January.
Pruett said furniture industry leaders shouldn’t have to think twice about attending next week’s luncheon.
“It’s very critical that we have a good turnout to show support for all we’re trying to do and to thank those who are helping us,” he said.
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.

– Those wishing to attend the furniture industry luncheon on Dec. 16 at 11:30 a.m. at the Tupelo Furniture Market should call (662) 489-5874 to make reservations by Monday.
– The Mississippi Furniture Association also is recruiting sponsors for the event. Interested sponsors should call by Friday.
Furniture officials lobbying for support

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal