Area continues to feel economic ups, downs

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 7, 2009

With recent events, Southwest Mississippi continues toexperience the ups and downs of a difficult economy.

After its sale out of foreclosure in September, Columbus LumberCompany has now found new owners who are looking bring the longtimelocal facility back online and provide jobs for the community. Thatis a definite up.

On the downside for the area, though, was last week’sannouncement that Air Cruisers would be closing the larger of itstwo site in Liberty in Amite County in August. The unfortunate movewill see about 90 area jobs lost and moved to Mexico.

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Southwest Mississippi’s up and down economic situation isanother this area cannot afford to be asked to do more than itsshare in helping to address a statewide budget dilemma.

Yet that is what is being considered under Gov. Haley Barbour’sexecutive budget recommendations that see three state facilitiesclosed or relocated out of Southwest Mississippi.

Barbour has proposed closing the Brookhaven Crisis InterventionCenter and the Mississippi Adolescent Center. He has also raisedthe prospect of the merger and moving of the Mississippi School ofthe Arts out of Brookhaven and to the Mississippi School for Mathand Science on the Mississippi University for Women campus inColumbus.

Such moves would cost this area another 185 or so jobs and theeconomic impact provided by payrolls and facilities operationshere. Also impacted would be MSA students’ learning atmosphereprovided by a non-college campus and area residents’ nearby accessmental health services if or when needed.

Difficult times have put many communities on economic rollercoasters.

Compared to other areas of the state, Southwest Mississippi as awhole has seen relatively few economic thrills. Its ride towardrecovery will only be hampered by bearing a disproportionate burdenin any budget solution.