Somewhere between wishful thinking and the cold, hard truth, there is useful reality.
That is where we find ourselves when discussing the Mississippi economy. Don’t believe the sunny optimism or doom-and-gloom naysayers. Things aren’t great, but they’re not so bad either.
A report commissioned by the Mississippi Economic Council and conducted by GodwinGroup was released last week, and it details where business leaders and a random sample of Mississippians think we are economy-wise. A few key findings from the study:
• Like the U.S., Mississippi has faced a downturn — but business leaders are positive about the future.
• Both business leaders and citizens are positive about the direction in which Mississippi is headed.
• In addition, business leaders and citizens believe the economy is headed for a turnaround within the next couple of years.
• Businesses are acutely aware of infrastructure needs, particularly roads and school facilities.
• Business leaders continue to have difficulty finding and retaining quality employees — listing work skills and ethics/dependability as key.
• Overall, the study found that there are really two issues in Mississippi — jobs and education. Businesses list education and jobs. Citizens list jobs and education.
One other factor, “…lawsuit abuse and judicial reform (tort reform issues) are moving back onto the business radar screen.” In fact, “43.2% of businesses say the threat of lawsuits or lawsuits are a serious problem for their business.”
The findings of this recent economic survey are encouraging — for the most part. We need to stay excited about the opportunities available to business and industry in Mississippi, but remember that they will be squandered if we lose focus or fail to take advantage of them, instead clinging to the miserable status quo and “business as usual” attitudes.