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Job, lives at stake

MBJ Editorial

Tourism was a $6.1-billion business in Mississippi last year. That’s a tremendous segment in the Magnolia State’s economy, and it will be just as important and significant this year.

In FY2000, almost 95,000 Mississippians were at work in tourism-related jobs, which is a 5% increase from the previous year’s employment of 89,600.

Every day, Mississippi offers tens of thousands of visitors unique experiences: Civil War battlefields, the Blues Highway, casino resorts, beautiful state parks, world-class golf, spring pilgrimages, museums and art exhibits, sports and the finest Southern cuisine.

From cultural excursions to gaming getaways, travelers are enjoying the best of Mississippi, which has been aggressively marketed in recent years. This marketing effort has transformed the image of our state for many, and the economic impact has been critical to raising the quality of life for countless Mississippians.

A serious problem looms over this success story, as well as many others. In April, we vote for or against a new state flag. The emotional intensity of this issue has been inflamed by the reckless rhetoric from extremists on both sides of the flag issue. It’s been ugly, and chances are, it’s going

to get worse.

This is all nonsense. Bottom line on the flag issue: get rid of the old flag. If we don’t, Mississippi will lose jobs. Period.

Thousands of folks won’t like voting for a new state flag, but it’s the right thing to do if we wish to continue to nurture economic development and opportunities for every Mississippian.

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