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Mississippi’s economic development a...

Mississippi’s economic development a crucial priority

By: Laura Hipp - May 8, 2023

Laura Hipp

The Mississippi Development Authority seeks to make the Magnolia State the best place to live, work, and do business.

As the Mississippi Development Authority celebrates Economic Development Week, it is important to reflect on the significant role MDA and our communities play in supporting investment growth and job creation throughout the state.

MDA’s commitment to support expanding Mississippi-grown enterprises and attracting new business through infrastructure investment and cultivating a positive business climate is a testament to our dedication to building a thriving economy.

Consider some of the recent achievements of Mississippi’s economic development efforts:

Under Governor Tate Reeves, Mississippi has attracted more than $6 billion in new capital investment and recorded the lowest unemployment rate in the history of the state. Mississippi has attracted projects ranging from automotive manufacturing to space-related industry.

We have supported numerous businesses with resources, including training and technical assistance, to help them grow and compete in global markets.

We have promoted the outstanding quality of life and tourist attractions you’ll find in our small towns, including Laurel, Vicksburg and Ocean Springs, through an award-winning campaign that helped increase visitor spending to $7 billion in the last fiscal year.  

In 2022, MDA, the Golden Triangle Development LINK and Lowndes County secured the largest corporate investment to date in Mississippi as Steel Dynamics announced plans to expand its campus in Columbus. Steel Dynamics will invest $2.5 billion to create an aluminum flat roll mill and biocarbon solutions plant, which will create 1,000 jobs in the Golden Triangle. SDI and other economic development wins in recent years serve as crystal-clear examples of the transformational impact MDA, our partners and our pro-business climate have in our local communities and on Mississippi’s economy as a whole. 

We also understand that to remain competitive, speed to market is a top priority for companies. With the support of Governor Reeves and the Legislature, MDA will invest more than $81 million by beginning of 2024 to prepare industrial sites statewide so companies can turn dirt as soon as they choose their ideal Mississippi location. The investments in these sites also bolster local economic development entities’ efforts to attract new industries to their communities.

Since the inception of the Site Development Grant Program, MDA has invested in more than 50 sites, like the Madison County Mega Site, which has received funds for road extensions and other infrastructure projects while gaining several new businesses, including Amazon and the recently announced Clark Beverage Group.

These achievements and forward-thinking initiatives demonstrate MDA’s commitment to creating a business-friendly environment, fostering innovation and cultivating a skilled and diverse workforce. We know that economic development requires all hands-on deck, and we are fortunate to have many partners in this endeavor, including local communities, state agencies, educational institutions and private organizations.

We also know that there are challenges ahead, such as the continued need for rural development and the fierce global competition. That is why we must continue to prioritize economic development as a strategic imperative for Mississippi’s future.

To do that, we must focus on several key areas:

  • Continue to build a strong business climate that promotes entrepreneurship, innovation and growth,
  • Strategically developing our roads, bridges, ports, airports and broadband, and
  • Leveraging our strengths such as tourism, agriculture, forestry and aerospace. 

By pursuing these priorities and working together, we can build a vibrant Mississippi. One that offers abundant opportunities for everyone, regardless of where they live in the state. One that is ready for the jobs of the future. One that is a model for successful economic development.

In celebration of Economic Development Week, I invite you to join us in this important mission. Together, we can make Mississippi the best place to live, work, and do business.

About the Author(s)
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Laura Hipp

Laura Hipp serves as deputy executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority. She also has served as chief marketing officer, managing the marketing and communications for economic development and tourism. Hipp has extensive experience shaping communications and public policy strategy. She was director of communications for Gov. Tate Reeves when he served as lieutenant governor, working with elected officials and the private sector. She previously served as director of communications for former Gov. Haley Barbour. Additionally, she worked for 10 years as an award-winning reporter in Mississippi and Texas at several publications, including The Clarion Ledger and Austin Business Journal.