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Mississippi among the Top States for...

Mississippi among the Top States for Doing Business

By: Phil Hardwick - December 1, 2023

Columnist Phil Hardwick says the latest rankings from site selection and economic development experts prove Mississippi is a state where businesses should consider locating.

Mississippi has been named one of the “2023 Top States for Doing Business” by Area Development Magazine, considered the leading executive magazine covering corporate site selection and relocation. 

The Magnolia State came in overall at number 10 of the 20 states listed. Mississippi was ranked #4 in the Speed of Project Permitting category, #7 in the Overall Cost of Doing Business category, and #10 in the Business Incentives Programs and Favorable Regulatory Environment categories, respectively. 

Each year, Area Development surveys site selection and economic development experts to determine which states are identified as exhibiting more than a dozen categories that companies find important in decisions to add new facilities, expand, or relocate (see categories below). Although there are many state business rankings articles on various magazine websites, it is insightful to note the respondents in this survey were professionals who deal with day-to-day site selection and economic development issues.

Economic developers have known for a long time that companies want to move fast when deciding to add a new facility.  Land acquisition, environmental regulations, engineering, and legal considerations take valuable time after a company has decided to add a new facility. Consequently, many states have focused on having not only a site, but a building as well, for companies to consider.

An excellent example of Mississippi’s high ranking in the categories of Site Readiness Program and Speed of Project Permitting was the announcement this past week that a new Amazon facility would be locating in the Northstar Industrial Park’s 50,000 square foot speculative building in Oktibbeha County. The project is slated to create 90 full time and part time jobs. 

“As this speculative building finds its tenant, we shift focus to our newly constructed pad next door, ready for the next major success at the park,” said Joe Max Higgins, CEO of The LINK.

Locating the project was a team effort between The Golden Triangle Development LINK, the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority (OCEDA and Agracel, Inc., according to the GTR link website. 

Lynn Spruill, President of OCEDA and Mayor of Starkville, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership’s outcome.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have the partnership with the LINK result in a project that brings jobs and activity to NorthStar Park,” Spruill said. “I have always believed that our partnership with Oktibbeha County and OCEDA would yield long term economic development to our community and the region. When we partner, we create the best chances for our mutual success.”

Mississippi’s low cost of doing business is often one of the factors in the state’s ranking in these types of surveys. CNBC’s 2021 “Top States for Doing Business” had the state as number one in that category. The state ranked 16th in the Forbes Advisor “2023 Best States for Business” rankings thanks to high rankings in Business Costs and Financial Accessibility categories.

Mississippi’s business incentives programs are significant in rankings. The Mississippi Development Authority website lists 43 different incentives, ranging from Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Headquarters to Skills Training Income Tax Credit.

In June 2023, Mississippi’s unemployment rate hit an all-time low for the fourth month in a row. Mississippi was one of only 11 states to see a drop in its unemployment rate that month.

Rankings such as these highlight the state as a place for new businesses to consider.

1. Georgia
2. South Carolina
3. Tennessee
4. North Carolina
5. Ohio
6. Alabama
7. Indiana
8. Texas
9. Virginia
10. Mississippi

The 14 categories considered were as follows:

  • Workforce Training Programs
  • Overall Cost of Doing Business
  • Business Incentive Programs
  • Access to Capital & Funding
  • Competitive Labor Market
  • Energy Availability & Costs
  • Water Availability
  • Logistics & Infrastructure
  • Available Real Estate
  • Cooperative & Responsive State Government
  • Corporate Tax Structure
  • Site-Readiness Programs
  • Favorable Regulatory Environment
  • Speed of Project Permitting
About the Author(s)
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Phil Hardwick

Phil Hardwick is an award-winning business columnist and semi-retired economic developer. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at the Millsaps College Else School of Management for many years. He has taught over 1,000 students, written over 800 columns, written 11 books and assisted over 100 communities and organizations with strategic planning. In February 2016 he was inducted as a Lifetime Member of the Mississippi Economic Development Council.