• 73°

Bryant talks development for area, state

WESSON – Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant shared an insider’s view into theSenate – and also spoke about potential area economic development -while giving a condensed state of the state lecture Wednesday to300 of the state’s future leaders.

Immediately following a speech at the Mississippi AmericanLegion Boys State program at Copiah-Lincoln Community CollegeWednesday afternoon, Bryant spoke briefly about an ongoing effortto lure a wood pellet manufacturing plant to the area.

“We’re talking to a company looking at this area,” he said. “Wemet with them two months ago, and we’re in the process of puttingtogether some capital resources.”

Though Bryant chose his words carefully – as elaborating onindustrial prospects can often spook those industries from the area- he said the industry manufactures fuel pellets from carbonmaterial, like wood, primarily for use in some European countries.The company exports to those counties to meet fuel demands forenergy, where strict emmissions laws prohibit the burning ofcoal.

As for the possibility of further economic development, Bryantsaid there was no industry that could not work in SouthwestMississippi. Noting that the area has been passed over repeatedlyas new industries are brought to the state, Bryant said Lincoln andsurrounding counties must band together to increase theirindustrial recruiting capacity.

“Form coalitions,” he recommended. “Pull together the entireregion – you don’t want one county fighting another. With threecounties pulled together, that gives you 15 supervisors, 10 or somayors, three chancery clerks. Get those counties to pulltogether.”

As proof of his suggestion’s worth, Bryant pointed to NorthMississippi’s PUL Alliance, the tri-county union between Pontotoc,Union and Lee counties that lured the Toyota plant to Blue Springsnear Tupelo. The PUL Alliance was the first regional economicdevelopment alliance in the state.

Speaking to the rising seniors of Boys State, Bryant listedMississippi’s growing list of industrial achievements – Toyota,Nissan, Eurocopter and others.

“There are many exciting things going on in Mississippi at thistime,” he said. “I remember growing up thinking of Mississippi asan agrarian state. But our world has changed so much that, now, inCanton, Miss., we make automobiles. I remember thinking that thiswas never going to happen.”

Bryant took his time standing before 300 of the state’s futureleaders to request they not stray too far from home. He told theBoys State seniors they will be needed to operate and manage thestate as it takes on more and more industries.

“This is the land of opportunity – where you’re needed themost,” he said. “They don’t need another star in Los Angeles; theydon’t need another businessman in New York – we need you here.”

With his points made, Bryant opened up the floor to questioningand received several inquires about the condition of stategovernment, which he answered matter-of-factly and usually with agrin. Bryant offered up a short description of his duties in theSenate when one of the Boys State seniors asked if he ever becamefrustrated with his senators.

“Oh, sure,” Bryant responded. “Sometimes, it’s a good thing I’mnot armed. My job is to stand stoically and call on them. It’s likedirecting a 52-member orchestra, all of which are type-Apersonalities.”

Bryant said he often went to the gavel to demand order if theSenate got out of hand, but he tried to prevent such instances bypersonal example. Bryant said he stands rather than sits, alwayskeeps his suit coat buttoned and his tie straight to exudeprofessionalism and calm.

Bryant also pointed out that his methods for maintaining orderin the Senate would probably not work in the House. When a BoysState senior recounted his story of disorder in the House witnessedduring a Wednesday morning visit to the Capitol, Bryantconfessed.

“The House is a little rowdy,” Bryant said. “There’s a 122people in there, and it happens.”

Later on, Bryant said the difference between the Senate, whichhas moved legislation through diligently during the regular andspecial sessions; and the House, which often fails to introducelegislation for a vote and adjorned after four hours in the specialsession last week; was representative of the past and future.

“In the House, you have the old political dynamic,” Bryant said.”The House is dominated by factions – Republicans and Democrats,white and blacks, geological location… We’ve removed all those inthe Senate. You can’t govern on those dynamics – the Senateunderstands this about good government.”