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Ratings and lists: Why do we love

From the Ground Up

Ratings and lists. We love `em. They are a fast and easy way to digest information when the facts and figures spill off the plate.

Each year, Expansion Management magazine publishes an edition that it bills as the “Atlas & Guide.” It`s filled with facts and data about states so that expanding

companies can peruse the buffet line for items that match their tastes and palate.

For example, there is a map of the United States depicting each state`s education levels at a glance. One sees that Mississippi`s percentage of population age 25 and

older with a high school diploma is 77.3. Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana and West Virginia have lower numbers. The map shows that the State of Washington has

92% of its over-25 adults having a high school diploma. It`s an interesting map.

Do not despair.

Mississippi shines in more than one spot. There is a Construction Cost Index table that reveals that construction cost in Jackson is 14% below the national average.

Detroit is 6% above the national average. One way to present that data to a prospective company moving to Mississippi would be to say that a building that costs

$1,060,000 in Detroit would cost only $860,000 in Jackson. That might be the edge needed to recruit a company to expand in Mississippi. The national average

construction cost can be found in Denver, Baltimore and Cincinnati. In other words, that same building just referred to would cost $1,000,000 to build.

Corporate income taxes is another area where Mississippi comes out nicely with a rate of 3%-5%. On that count, no state on the list has an overall lower corporate

tax rate than Mississippi. Tax revenue per capita is another story. Mississippians with itemized returns pay an average of $1,758 per person in state income taxes,

which is 8.8% of the average person`s income.

Only seven states have higher tax revenue per capita. However, let`s be careful with this statistic. Notice that the percentage is not the tax rate itself. This is a good

illustration of how statistics must be viewed with care.

Let`s continue this potpourri of numbers by changing our format and having you fill in the blanks where appropriate. The answers are at the end of the column.

Manufacturing Employment (% of labor force in manufacturing jobs)

National average 14.4%

Michigan 20.8%

California 13.7%

Maryland 7.4%

Mississippi ____%

Cost of Living Index

National average 100.0

Washington, D.C. metro 137.8

Atlanta 103.2

Montgomery, Ala. 97.6

Jackson ____

Union Membership

National average 15.8%

Alabama 13.8%

Arkansas 9.3%

Ohio 26.9%

Mississippi ____%

Gross State Product (per capita)

National average $30,260

Georgia $30,653

Michigan $27,858

Arkansas $23,169

Mississippi $______

For complete information on the sources of the data, refer to the Expansion Management’s “Atlas & Guide, 2000.”

Or, jump online at www.expansionmanagement.com.

Here are the correct answers:

Manufacturing employment 20.8%

Cost of Living Index 89.3%

Union Membership 8.5%

Gross State product $21,346

Phil Hardwick’s column appears regularly in the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is hardwickp@aol.com.

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