How’s business in Mississippi’s Bold New City? A press release last week from Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr.’s office would have you believe that all is well in Jackson.
Data compiled by the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development’s Existing Industry and Business Division indicate that from January to April about $12 million from new or expanding businesses was invested in Jackson along with 291 new jobs.
“Mayor Johnson has worked hard to create a city that is conducive to the growth and expansion of the business community,” said Harold Lathon, deputy director of economic development for the city.
Take a look at the metro picture: In Hinds, Madison and Rankin counties, a total of six new and eight expanded manufacturing and four new non-manufacturing facilities boosted local economies with an estimated capital investment of $27 million and 442 jobs.
The city of Jackson is seeing its share of economic activity, but there are a few fair points to ponder: Where would the city be if it didn’t have an anti-business reputation? If it didn’t have a city council that rivals a low-budget circus in quality of buffoonery? If its infrastructure wasn’t crumbling? If it could transcend petty racial politics and move forward and deal aggressively — and progressively — with issues like crime, decaying neighborhoods and public schools and flight to the suburbs?
Will it happen? Perhaps. Will Jackson be all that it can be? Possibly.
Jackson has a problem with perception being its reality. Good things might be happening here, but too few folks notice or remember them.
It will take leaders with conviction, guts and a sense of purpose to reverse course and get the city on the right track. Shallow public relations attempts just won’t cut it.