Jobs key ingredient in post-Katrina recovery

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Always quick to find fault in Mississippi, the New York Timestook another of many shots at our fair state with a recent newsstory and an editorial condemning Mississippi’s use of Katrinafunding.

The New York Times editors took the state to task for what theyconsider improper use of federal funds to build the industrial baseinstead of providing more housing for low- and moderate-incomefamilies.

What is even more disturbing are the verbal attacks laid on thestate in responses to the editorial by readers on the NYT Web site.Why so much hate and anger at a state, its leadership and peoplestill trying to recover from the cataclysmic destruction of theworst natural disaster to ever hit this country?

At the center of the complaint is the effort by Gov. HaleyBarbour to use $600 million of $5.5 billion in federal disasterrelief for rebuilding the Port of Gulfport – a major source of jobson the coast.

We guess this comes down to the chicken or the egg theory – whatcame first?

In the case for the Mississippi Gulf Coast what comes first?Housing or jobs?

We would think jobs are a key ingredient. Without jobs there isno need for housing. What the NYT editors do not comprehend is thatthe Mississippi Gulf Coast was wiped cleanly off the map and isbeing rebuilt one brick at a time.

Barbour’s leadership at a critical time in our state’s historywas the key element that has allowed Mississippi to reduce the painto its citizens and provide hope for the future.

Is everything back to normal on the coast? No, and it will notlikely be for years to come.

But thanks to the progressive efforts by the state leadership,the foundation is being laid for that industrial recovery for theregion. And with it will be a strong economy that will supportadequate housing for those willing to work and be a part of therecovery.