BRENT CHRISTENSEN: Mississippi in 2014: Success breeds success

When Governor Bryant was inaugurated in January of 2012, he made it clear that “Job one” for him was to be sure that every Mississippian who wanted a job had a job.

That goal is at the heart of Mississippi’s economic development efforts, and the 2013 job creation and investment figures show that we are making significant strides toward putting our state’s people to work. By year’s end, the Mississippi Development Authority had worked with its local partners and businesses throughout the state to announce the creation 6,265 new jobs and more than $1 billion in new corporate investment. In fact, the state’s momentum in the business sector was noted in numerous economic development trade publications around the world with one concluding, “Mississippi is on an economic roll.”

Winning creates enthusiasm and draws the attention of prospects proving the adage true that, “Success breeds success.” With that sentiment, Mississippi’s business recruiting efforts started off strong and yielded a high rate of return on globally sought after corporate projects. To win projects it takes a collaborative effort with stakeholders across the spectrum

In Mississippi, we understand a strong, well-balanced and welcoming business environment doesn’t just happen. It’s the result of pro-active leadership creating an environment conducive for businesses to succeed and providing the resources necessary to attract new investment. From the state legislators who worked diligently to pass landmark energy and tax reform to the numerous local officials whose efforts advanced economic development, Mississippi’s value proposition as a prime location for business investment strengthened over the past year. These coordinated pro-business efforts more than doubled the new jobs announced from 2012 and also doubled new corporate investment in Mississippi’s economy.

As a result, Mississippi amassed an impressive list of Top 10 rankings from nationally recognized publications. Site location consultants, as well as business executives and decision makers, keep track of the states and locations leading the nation in key areas, which gives Mississippi more exposure in core marketing circles and increases recruiting opportunities.

Here’s how Mississippi ranked in the last year in those areas:

• No. 9 State for Doing Business – Area Development Magazine

• Top 5 Award of Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing – Expansion Solutions Magazine

• Top 5 for overall Cost of Doing Business – Area Development Magazine

• No. 5 Best State for Entrepreneurs – Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity

• No. 2 for Competitive Utility Costs and Permitting Speed- Area Development Magazine

These top national rankings confirm what many global companies already know, that Mississippi has the right business climate and infrastructure for new and existing businesses to succeed in the 21st century. Additionally, Mississippi is strategically located in the fastest growing region in the country with global companies looking to the southeast region of the U.S. for location or expansion opportunities.

Today’s industries are searching for tomorrow’s solutions. We will continue to capitalize on our strong growth capacity today to build those companies in Mississippi. Access to talent and innovation are fundamental requirements for today’s companies. In Mississippi, we value our strong, working partnerships with our universities and community colleges and understand they are key to our long-term economic success. Building upon those working partnerships to create a stronger, more vibrant talent pool in Mississippi is imperative. This holistic approach offers essential support to our recruiting efforts, our existing industries and entrepreneurs.

Here’s a look at some of the world-class companies who chose to invest in Mississippi in 2013:

• Aurora Flight Sciences

• Feuer Powertrain GmbH

• GE Aviation

• General Dynamics Information Technology

• Nissan North America

• Rolls Royce

• Yokohama Tire Company

In the midst of a rebounding global economy our news feeds were filled with positive news, and together we did our part to ensure Mississippi was in those national and international headlines, as well.

In this “team sport” known as economic development, we must continue to work together in 2014 to recruit more business investment to our state, to focus on cultivating our in-state talent pool and capable workforce, and to create an enticing environment to build tomorrow’s companies. Let us continue with Governor Bryant’s goal of providing all Mississippians with the economic opportunities they so deserve.

Brent Christensen is executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, the state government agency with primary responsibility for economic development.