OTHER OPINION: Coast seeks to get its act together

By Sun Herald, Gulfport/Biloxi

Moody’s Analytics, a leading independent provider of data, analysis, modeling and forecasts on national and regional economies, has released its latest metro area forecasts, including those for the Gulfport Metro Area (Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties) and the Pascagoula Metro Area (Jackson and George counties).
Both forecasts reflect some long-term optimism, but make clear our short- and long-term future is at risk. They also make our wish list for 2013 pretty clear.
Moody’s pins the best hope for the Gulfport area on the expansion of the state Port of Gulfport, and that expansion’s short-term impact on jobs and long-term impact on our region’s total economy.
The Pascagoula Metro Area has recovered well, according to Moody’s, because of its shipbuilding industry.
But all of the forecasts assume Congress and the president reach agreement on a plan to address the federal deficit and to avoid “sequestration.”
So here’s our wish list for 2013:
• Congress and President Barack Obama drop the rhetoric and the politicking and come to a compromise that involves spending cuts and tax increases.
• The Port of Gulfport’s governing commission and Gov. Phil Bryant get their act together, finalize a realistic plan, and move ahead with the expansion and needed dredging.
• Obama and his administration settle on a plan for NASA and our nation’s space future.
• Gov. Bryant and the Department of Marine Resources get their act together and, after a professional and comprehensive public search, find a replacement with impeccable credentials for Dr. Bill Walker upon his departure.
• Coast counties support, and the Mississippi Legislature approve, the creation of a regional tourism marketing organization, as recommended by the Gulf Coast Business Council. Professional and well-researched marketing of the Coast’s tourism resources is needed to make investments pay off and grow our tourism industry.