Dist. 92 candidates talk economic development

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Editor’s note:The DAILY LEADER is beginning a series ofquestion and answer sessions with candidates in selected races.Today we feature the first of three questions and answers involvingthe District 92 House of Representatives race. The second and thirdquestions and answers will be featured in Monday’s and Tuesday’seditions. In the race, Paul Barnett, Everett Gene Buckles and BeckyCurrie are seeking the Republican nomination while D.W. Maxwell isthe lone Democrat in the race. All four candidates responded to thenewspaper’s questionnaire.

1. While other areas of the state have enjoyed economicdevelopment success such as the Nissan plant in Canton and theplanned Toyota plant near Tupelo, Southwest Mississippi has trailedin efforts to land a major project. What do you propose to do toaddress this situation and bring jobs to this area?

Paul Barnett:

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Rather than waiting for “jobs” to come to Southwest Mississippi,I will work closely with the Governor’s office, the MississippiDevelopment Authority and YOU to immediately create a marketingplan whereby Copiah, Franklin and Lincoln counties will bepresented in a positive professional manner to global industryleaders, a true representation of the fact that District 92 is “TheDestination For The Dedicated.”

Additionally, I will personally emphasize developing businessand industry from within Copiah, Franklin and Lincoln counties. Aswe Educate, Train and Retain our children; we will build thefoundation for tomorrow’s Fortune 500 companies to be based righthere at home.

Working together … continued progress for District 92.

Everett Gene Buckles:

Advertise District 92 – to promote the people in District 92and/or the resources of District 92. Location of District 92 has tobe of major importance. Seek prospects who are looking forexpansion or new location. Form a committee to help with theadvertising and search for prospects. Obtain the support of otherlegislators.

Becky Currie:

I agree that Southwest Mississippi has been less successful whenit comes to attracting industries with higher paying jobs. GovernorHaley Barbour appointed me to the Board of Momentum Mississippi in2004. This Board was hand picked by the Governor and our goal wasto change our economic development incentives through theLegislature, which we did. We then worked to pursue three maingoals with this new Legislation.

1. Pursue high value, high growth businesses opportunities byidentifying targeted industries that would include manufacturingand service industries.

2. Improve productivity and profitability of existingbusinesses.

3. Increase development of new technologies in Mississippi.

Being apart of this Board has provided me with the opportunityto learn how others are attracting industries and higher payingjobs to their areas and there is no reason why SouthwestMississippi cannot be more successful. After Hurricane Katrinacompanies saw that we worked hard and got things done. They are nowlooking at Mississippi and we need to take advantage of thisopportunity.

I am proud to say that BIPEC has endorsed my campaign. BIPEC isa research and education organization that is bipartisan and worksto provide employers and employer related trade organizations withinformation about candidates and the district they represent. For acandidate that is not an incumbent and has a primary, this is avery important endorsement and I am proud to be the only candidatein District 92 to have been chosen.

D.W. Maxwell:

Let’s face the facts my friends. House District 92 and SouthwestMississippi has missed finding the golden egg that produces jobsfor our young people as well as older adults. We must find a way toprovide more and better quality jobs to retain our young adults andmake this a better community.

First, Central Mississippi landed a 5,000 plus employee Nissanplant in Canton costing in excess of $1.4 billion dollars. Second,Northeast Mississippi landed a 2,000 plus employee Toyota plantnear Tupelo costing in excess of $1.3 billion dollars. Third,Mobile County Alabama landed a 2,700 plus employee steel plant,ThyssenKrupp AG costing in excess of $3.7 billion dollars, whichwill help all Southeast Alabama, South and Southeast Mississippi.It is estimated that over 29,000 jobs will be created eitherdirectly or indirectly from this project. Fourth, North CentralMississippi in Columbus landed a 500 plus employee truck plant,which builds Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks. This is in addition toNorthwest Mississippi flourishing with casinos and the Gulf Coastof South Mississippi with its rebuilding effort of residential,commercial, high-rise condominiums and massive casinos. The GulfCoast has more jobs than workers to fill them. Just review what Ihave previously covered. What part of Mississippi is notparticipating? Southwest Mississippi.

Why has Southwest Mississippi missed out in playing this game?We must have that special affiliated group who is willing to makethis project their only goal and a leader and/or advisor(s)associated with that group who has BUSINESS AND GOVERNMENTEXPERIENCE; LEADERSHIP ABILITY; VISION; CONTACTS; and RELATIONSHIPSwith neighboring counties and cities, various state leaders, statedepartments such as MDA and PDD, Congressmen and US Senators.

As a candidate for the office of State representative, I canoffer these qualities and dedicate myself to assist. I have aGREATER VISION for House District 92 and Southwest Mississippi andhow this endeavor can be achieved. After Katrina the whole worldhas focus on Mississippi. Never before have we had so muchattention. Multi-billion dollar international businesses are nowlooking at Mississippi and we are considered at the top of the listwhen looking for new locations to place new businesses.

But first, House District 92 and other Southwest Mississippiarea governments and communities must decide whether they wantchange, whether they want growth, what type of growth they desire,whether they are willing to fund this new growth, who will stepforward as the leader of such a project, then form relationshipswith each other bringing communities together as a group andaggressively going after the “BIG” prospects. These projects are socostly and time consuming that no one county or city can take itupon itself without partnering with others.

Some of us have experienced what outside businesses andindividuals are looking for when choosing an area for theirbusinesses and family living. Some of the more important items are:an available educated work force, good schools and educationsystems, good health facilities, low crime area with good lawenforcement, near good recreation areas and facilities, low crimearea with good law enforcement, near good recreation area andfacilities, a city and county that provides a variety of adequateservices, a good social life, entertainment, great restaurants,adequate lodging facilities and the list can go on, but these aresome of the most desired. If you have a desire for this communityto grow, be great and provide good paying jobs whereby yourchildren would desire to live in the same are in which they grewup, then you must elect government officials that are not onlybusiness and government experience, but also are leaders and mostof all have a VISION for the future.