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BUSINESS CLIMATE OVERVIEW
From the Mississippi Development Guide 2017
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Playing by New Rules

Thanks to strong leadership at the highest level, Mississippi enjoys its most competitive business position ever.

by RON STARNER

Two years ago, when both Mississippi State and Ole Miss were ranked in the top three in the college football poll for the first time, some people thought the world had turned upside down.

That's nothing compared to what Mississippi now enjoys in economic development. By several objective measurements, the Magnolia State is the most competitive business environment in the country — and it's getting better each year.

Thanks to strong leadership from Gov. Phil Bryant and Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Glenn McCullough Jr., Mississippi has improved its overall competitive position in each of the past four years. As a result, 2016 saw the state experience one of its largest project windfalls of all time.

Continental Tire, the sixth largest manufacturer of tires in the US, selected Mississippi for a $1.45-billion capital investment that will include a multi-million-square-foot plant and the employment of more than 2,500 state workers. It will be the most advanced constructed by Continental.

The governor's leadership was vital in getting this deal done, as he worked with Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and the Legislature to invest $263 million into tax incentives for the project.

Gov. Bryant laid the groundwork for the deal, though, by improving the state's business climate. Since 2012, he has cut taxes on corporations over 40 times, including phasing out both the franchise tax and the inventory tax.

"Those are two major opportunities we have had to make Mississippi much better. We now have one of the best tax environments in the U.S.," he said.

Conditions for business have improved so much in Mississippi one major manufacturing company in the state recently reported in a study of all 23 U.S. states in which it does business, Mississippi ranks as the best overall business environment. The firm used such factors as taxes, unemployment compensation, workers compensation, operating costs, labor, transportation, energy, healthcare, job growth and quality of life.

Other independent rankings attest to Mississippi's competitive position as well. According to various studies, Mississippi ranks:

  • No. 1 for Production of Bio-Made Products in the US
    (USDA Economic Impact Report, 2015).
  • No. 1 for Low Cost of Living (CNBC, 2015).
  • No. 2 for Overall Cost of Doing Business (CNBC, 2015).
  • No. 3 for Competitive Labor Costs (Area Development, 2015).
  • No. 3 for Export Growth
    (US Chamber Foundation, 2015).
  • No. 4 for Incentive Programs
    (Area Development, 2015).
  • No. 6 Most Tax-Friendly State for Business (Kiplinger, 2015).
  • No. 8 for Performance of State Highway System (21st Annual Highway Report, 2014).

The state is not content to rest on its laurels, either. Gov. Bryant and McCullough continue to push for lower taxes and more incentives to help businesses grow and hire more Mississippians. In recent years, they have added a jobs tax credit, rural economic development income tax credit and manufacturing income tax credit to their toolkit.

"The state's commitment through the Mississippi Works fund — $50 million over 9 years — is a strong example of how we are putting resources behind building a superior workforce."
— Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves

Mississippi also offers special income tax exemptions to companies in aerospace, clean energy, and regional and national headquarters.

Gov. Bryant wants business leaders in other states to know Mississippi's value proposition is simple: it is a state which knows how to make things well, and it does so efficiently. The value of $100 in Mississippi is 15 percent higher than the national average; and one out of every eight Mississippi workers is employed in manufacturing.

If you want to play by these rules, says the governor, move to Mississippi.

Ron Starner
Executive Vice President of Conway, Inc.

Ron Starner

Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Inc. He has been with Conway for 16 years and serves as editor of the TrustBelt Report and lead organizer of the annual TrustBelt Conference. He also writes extensively for Site Selection and Conway's Custom Content Publishing Division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.

  



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