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Ensuring competitive business climate...

Ensuring competitive business climate key to growing Mississippi economy

By: Scott Waller - January 5, 2023

MEC, the state’s chamber of commerce, eyes legislative opportunities.

Playing on Mississippi’s strengths is the key to our state’s success.

Understanding those strengths is essential, which is what the Mississippi Economic Council – the State Chamber of Commerce – set out to do with its “Securing Mississippi Future: Vision for Economic Growth” report. The report, released in early 2022, outlined goals and recommendations to help us highlight Mississippi’s advantages.

As we head into the 2023 session, several initiatives are being proposed that will create opportunities to grow Mississippi’s economy and help our businesses succeed.

Scott Waller

Ensuring Mississippi has a competitive business climate is at the core of addressing taxation of Remote and Internet-Based Computer Software Products and Services. Technology has changed, and with it, how we access software and services. In the fall of 2021, the Department of Revenue proposed regulation changes that would make our state noncompetitive and increase taxes.

Before these went into effect, the 2022 legislature created a study committee to investigate the issue. The committee completed its work in late 2022 and recommended excluding sales and use taxes on software used as business inputs. Those taxes would also be excluded from software-related services used by business consumers.

Doing this would make Mississippi one of the most competitive states when dealing with software taxation, while creating economic development opportunities for technology innovation.

Another critical component of the report focused on improving infrastructure.

Over the past four years, almost $500 million has been dedicated to the Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund (ERBRF). This effort primarily addresses the needs of local roads and bridges. With the help of an advisory committee made up of business leaders from all sectors of the economy, ERBRF proved to be a very efficient use of dollars, and the legislature should continue to fund this effort.

A commitment to put new dollars into state roads is helping address needs in the highway system. It remains vital that a long-term, sustainable source of funding is provided to the Mississippi Department of Transportation to protect one of the state’s most valuable resources.

MEC will continue to push for improvements in workforce development, which focus on training for in-demand jobs and creating pathways that lead to high-paying careers and providing training employers need.

We must build on the Career and Technical Education Reform Act of 2022. One of the key components was providing career coaches for high school students. Continuing the funding of this program must be a priority in 2023.

In addition, a great deal of work has gone into looking for a way to improve the state’s student financial aid programs. One recommendation is for non-traditional and part-time students to be eligible for assistance. In many cases, these students are working toward industry credentials needed for career advancement.

The support of business and industry leaders in all sectors of Mississippi’s economy allows MEC to build on our strengths. Working with state officials, legislative leaders, and partner organizations, we can develop meaningful public policy during the 2023 legislative session.

To learn more and to read the recent report from MEC, click here

About the Author(s)
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Scott Waller

Scott Waller, IOM, is President and CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council – the State Chamber of Commerce. He previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at MEC. Prior to joining MEC, Scott spent more than 20 years as a newspaper journalist, including four years as Business Editor of The Clarion-Ledger. He is also the former owner and editor of the Madison County Journal.