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Governor’s Office of Military Affairs releases plan to grow Mississippi’s defense economy

By: Anne Summerhays - December 1, 2022

The plan presents an economic and community development approach to growing the defense industry and strengthening defense communities in the state.

The Governor’s Office of Military Affairs (GOMA) and the Mississippi Defense Initiative (MDI) at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) have announced plans to strengthen and grow Mississippi’s defense economy in their report titled “The Future Fight: Mississippi’s Defense Economy Strategic Plan.

The recently released plan was developed to capitalize on trends in national defense and the security arena. The plan presents an economic and community development approach to growing the defense industry and strengthening defense communities.

The Future Fight has three significant areas of recommendations to improve the state’s approach to the defense industry:

  • Military installations and supporting communities– This area’s focus is the relationship between the community and the installation, which will increase in importance with the likelihood of installation missions evolving or changing in the future. 
  • Defense industry– This area focusses on supporting and augmenting state, local, and federal efforts to attract defense installations and defense-related industrial development via dedicated economic development strategies.
  • Veteran employment, collaboration, and focus on the future fight– This area focuses on crucial elements for expanding our defense workforce and creating additional opportunities for existing entities within the state while also envisioning the future of defense. 

Governor Reeves said this new strategic plan is about laying the foundation for our state to compete for new and relevant defense investment.

“Mississippi is proud to be a leader in the defense industry,” Reeves said. “We want our research centers to develop military technologies, our manufacturing sector to produce them, and our military installations to deploy them. Mississippi and our economic engine stand ready to support our military in any way we can.”

 

According to the plan, Mississippi ranks 35th in population, but ranks 22nd in total defense spending. The defense economy represents 6.5% of Mississippi’s overall gross domestic product (GDP). 

Haimes A. Kilgore, Program Director at MDI, said Mississippi’s defense economy is a pivotal factor in our overall state economy, with 6.5 percent of our GDP coming from defense.

“To ensure continued growth in this sector, we must continue our state’s effort within the National Defense Strategy by continued investment in emerging technologies within our university research institutions that support our diverse defense sectors and work with military installations within Mississippi to improve the quality of life for service members and their families,” Kilgore said.

According to the Governor’s Office, partners around the state have already begun implementing plans that will foster more cooperation in defense-focused communities and aid in capturing more defense projects.

GOMA and MDI primarily authored the strategy, but stakeholders from across academia; local, state and federal government, defense-related industries; all branches of the military; and others assisted with shaping and focusing the effort and will add to the success of the plan moving forward.

Maj. Gen. Janson D. Boyles, the Adjutant General of Mississippi, said the Mississippi National Guard continues to set a standard of excellence through relevant state-of-the-art training, establishing this organization as a vital resource among our nation’s combat-ready reserve forces.

“The professionalism of our men and women distinguishes Mississippi as one of the premier National Guard States in the nation,” Boyles said. “In coordination with the Governor’s Office of Military Affairs, the Mississippi National Guard is a prime stakeholder to further advance Mississippi’s strategic defense contributions while strengthening our nation’s defense and advancing our state’s defense economy.”

About the Author(s)
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Anne Summerhays

Anne Summerhays is a recent graduate of Millsaps College where she majored in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and American Studies. In 2021, she joined Y’all Politics as a Capitol Correspondent. Prior to making that move, she interned for a congressional office in Washington, D.C. and a multi-state government relations and public affairs firm in Jackson, Mississippi. While at Millsaps, Summerhays received a Legislative Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi where she worked with an active member of the Mississippi Legislature for the length of session. She has quickly established trust in the Capitol as a fair, honest, and hardworking young reporter. Her background in political science helps her cut through the noise to find and explain the truth.