Southwest Miss. should also enjoy Nissan growth

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 2, 2003

With tremendous fanfare the $1.4 billion Nissan plant openedlast week. The opening means 5,300 new jobs by next spring and aneconomic boom for Mississippi – well, central Mississippi thatis.

Taxpayers from all corners of the state anteed up $363 millionto attract the plant. It’s an investment that has been criticizedby some, but one that was necessary if the state wants to competein the economic development game.

When the announcement of Nissan’s decision to build the Cantonplant was made three years ago, communities up and down the I-55and I-20 corridor jumped for joy, for they understood thepossibilities with spin-off industries that would build within a120-mile radius of Canton.

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Vicksburg and Forest are the beneficiaries of some of thesesupplier plants, as well as areas around Canton on I-55 north. Newwell-paying jobs have been created and local economies arebooming.

The same cannot be said, however, for those of us along I-55south. Crystal Springs, Hazlehurst, Brookhaven and McComb have notenjoyed the fruits of the Nissan location. Not a single supplierplant has been located south of I-20 – not one! And worse, noneeven considered this area. The word blacklisted has been bouncedaround.

No one has come up with a good answer as to why southwestMississippi has been left out, except suggesting concern about ontime delivery of parts due to traffic congestion in the “stack”area of Jackson – the same congestion area that slows traffic fromthe east and the west on I-20.

Following the grand opening ceremonies, Gov. Ronnie Musgroveheld a round-table discussion about future economic developmentplans for Mississippi. Good economic news for the state was thetopic of the day with a prediction that a second automotive plantwas in the near future.

Tuesday was a banner day for Mississippi and marks the potentialfor a new era of economic progress for the state. We just think usfolks here in the southwest portion of the state deserve to beallowed to participate in that growth.