Businessman candidate optimistic about future

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gulf Coast businessman and Republican gubernatorial candidateDave Dennis expressed optimism about the state’s future Wednesday,but also acknowledged continued difficult economic times for a fewmore years.

Dennis avoided political campaign comments while talking to theBrookhaven Kiwanis Club, but he did tout several areas whereMississippi has “tremendous” opportunities for economicdevelopment. Among them are tourism and history.

“The areas that are blossoming the most are looking at theirheritage,” Dennis said.

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Dennis mentioned developments in the Delta and on the GulfCoast. He said revenue from tourism manifests itself in sales taxcollection, stronger corporate taxes and in other areas.

Energy generation was another area for growth. In addition toseveral projects around the state, Dennis mentioned Grand Gulf andits second reactor development that when completed will be thelargest in the United States.

“That’s a big deal,” Dennis said.

Dennis said citizens’ concerns are the same regardless of wherethey live in the state. Those center on job creation and economicopportunities for the future.

Dennis praised Gov. Haley Barbour’s efforts to create anenvironment to foster growth in the state. He mentioned a Coastport project that can have impact across the state and tort reformthat has improved the state’s business climate.

Dennis, a former chairman of the New Orleans Federal ReserveBoard, also discussed the state of the national economy.

With 42 cents of every federal dollar borrowed and anaccumulated $14 trillion deficit, Dennis said the country is at a”serious tipping point.” He said the U.S. was not in a “doomsdayarena,” but attention must be paid to the growing economicissues.

Dennis said the country must make fundamental decisionsregarding how it will spend money. He said there was no questionabout spending to care for the aged and infirmed, but other areasof spending must be evaluated.

“Just because a problem exists, it doesn’t mean the federalgovernment or the state government has to be the first line ofdefense to solve it,” said Dennis, adding that they should be thelast line in those cases.

The U.S., though, is not alone in financial troubles, Dennissaid.

“Many parts of the world have a serious case of financialpneumonia,” he said.

Helping the U.S., Dennis said, is that many countries still relyon the dollar to support their own economies.

“That’s a good thing,” he said.

Dennis also touched on the recent tornado that struck Smithvillein the northern part of the state and expected flooding along theMississippi River. Dennis visited Smithville over the weekend.

“That’s a tough spot up there,” he said. “There are some majorissues there.”

Dennis predicted many difficulties over the next two weeks asriver waters rise to well over flood stage levels in severalcounties.

“There are going to be some major concerns,” he said.