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Industry chief says economy looking up

Mississippi’s economy is presenting a “different picture” than ayear ago thanks improving national conditions, said the presidentof the state’s manufacturing association.

“It’s beginning to have a very positive effects in the state andwhat we can expect in the years to come,” said MississippiManufacturing Association president Jay Moon during theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce’s Existing Businessand Industry Appreciation luncheon Thursday.

Moon said Mississippi is fortunate to have some outstandingmanufacturers, including international corporations and homegrowncompanies that have become known worldwide. He touted theimportance of manufacturers on job creation.

Twenty-three million jobs nationwide and 180,000 statewide aredirectly tied to manufacturing, Moon said. Additionally, everymanufacturing job helps create three others jobs in support of theproduction activity.

“Manufacturing impacts every sector of local economies,” Moonsaid.

With the national economy turning around, Moon said the state isseeing some business expansions.

“The improvement in the national economy is starting to flowdown to the state,” Moon said. “We’re beginning to see the benefitsof that.”

Moon said the two facets of the new economy are globalizationand technology. He discussed improvements and remaining challengesto help the state and the U.S. compete globally.

Internationally, unregulated foreign competition impacts theU.S. Crediting congressional leaders, Moon mentioned someduty-related actions and international agricultural exportguidelines that he was hopeful would address unfair tradepractices.

Nationally, health care costs, including 30-40 percent yearlyincreases, remain a major issue for businesses, Moon said. Those,along with regulatory costs and lawsuit abuse, add up to about 22percent more that U.S. businesses have to absorb that foreigncompanies do not.

“You can’t sustain that kind of cost and stay competitive in aglobal economy,” Moon said.

On the state level, Moon credited lawmakers for their support ofcivil justice, or tort, reform actions during last year’s specialsession. He indicated those actions helped Mississippi take a leadrole in resolving civil justice issues.

“We didn’t just catch up with other states with civil justicereform, we went way beyond,” Moon said.

Also, Moon praised Gov. Haley Barbour’s efforts to revamp workforce training practices in the state.

“As technology changes, it puts more and more demands on thework force,” Moon said.

Locally, Moon encouraged industrial development leaders tocontinue efforts to address infrastructure needs and quality oflife issues. He said business officials take an interest in qualityof life issues, such as education, churches, hospitals, and thearts, when considering where to expand or relocate.