Lt. Governor Tate Reeves receives feedback during a campaign visit to Picayune

Mississippi Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, a Republican candidate for Governor, was in Pearl River County on Tuesday and held a meeting with community leaders and elected officials at The Coast Electric office in Picayune.

In his opening remarks, Reeves stated his view on economic development in Mississippi.

“I don’t believe Mississippi needs one economic plan, I believe Mississippi needs nine economic plans as for the nine different regions for our state. What’s best for Picayune and Pearl River County may not be what’s best for Jackson County, much less what’s best for Pearl River County may not be what’s best for Lee County,” he stated.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves gives his opening remarks on Tuesday in Picayune.

Reeves touted his commitment to creating a job ready workforce in the state.

“We’ve got to be able to train and re-train our workforce and I think workforce development is the single most important issue our next governor will deal with. Yesterday, I proposed a $100 million dollar investment in workforce training and workforce development in our community colleges to help fit or re-fit the programs in such a way that we can either expand those programs that are working , but we can also develop new programs to provide the training for the jobs of the next fifty years, not the jobs of the last fifty years .”

Reeves said that the reason that he can proposed spending $100 million dollars on workforce, and do so without borrowing any money, is due to fiscally prudent policies. Reeves said money for this program is available and will not have to be borrowed because the state of Mississippi collected $300 million dollars more than was originally forecast.

Reeves said he believes the state should have one person to work as a liaison to assist the community colleges and government entities maneuver through the sometimes difficult workforce development funding processes.

Reeves invited the group gathered to share information on what is working well and not working well for the area, and things that Mississippi can do better.

Mr. Sandy Kane Smith, President of the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors and District 5 Supervisor, was the first to respond to Reeves invitation. Smith, for the most part, has been spearheading economic development for the entire county in absence of a person in a paid position in either of the city governments or the county government.

“First of all, I want to apologize to Mr. Carl Liberty of Power Dynamics (Innovations). He’s had a hard go of it moving from one county to another, “ Smith stated.

Smith told Reeves of the situation that had transpired with Liberty moving his business from Stennis Space Center to the Picayune Industrial Park on Martin Luther King Blvd.

Smith stated that when Power Dynamics owner Carl Liberty was making decisions about moving his company to Picayune, he could have easily bolted across the state line to Louisiana as “they had opened up the red carpet for him.” Smith said Liberty chose to stay in Mississippi and relocate to Picayune.

Smith explained that Liberty, instead of laying off workers while his company contracted an outside firm to relocate PDI to Picayune, chose to use his employees to make the move. The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), which has a grant in place for companies to relocate within the state, would not reimburse PDI for the cost associated with paying the employees because it’s policy apparently states a company must use a contractor.

“It’s been a total war with this (MDA grant reimbursement). I know they have rules, and MDA has been a great source for us, but we need some common sense adjustment to MDA,” Smith added referring to the work that he and State Senator Angela Hill had done in trying to help Mr. Liberty and his company.

“We need to be a more business friendly state and I really applaud him for staying here.”

Senator Hill followed up Smith's explanation of the situation adding, “I think this is the first time I’ve encountered a situation like this. Instead of laying his employees off, he used them and saved money, instead of paying three times as much to move, yet we can’t give him the money back. It’s a no-win situation. This is an example of when we need to work together with MDA and figure out a way to help companies. They are certainly helping that company that moved into the building down at Stennis.”

Reeves responded, “This is when you need a governor and an MDA that has flexibility and understands flexibility matters. We’ve got to have someone look up and say the policy is wrong and fix the policy.”

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