In a speech last week, U.S. Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) delved into the possibility of Mississippi landing another auto manufacturing facility.
Despite the high costs of the incentives and tax breaks associated with winning such a significant development prize, Lott asserts that the state needs big deals, like the Nissan plant in Madison County, to make additional economic progress.
And, he’s probably right.
Critics call the hundreds of millions of dollars the state gave to Nissan “corporate welfare,” but that is how the high-stakes game is played.
Nissan will employ thousands, all involved in building a range of vehicles for the Japanese manufacturer for years to come. The state made a solid and sound investment. And if another Nissan-like opportunity comes along, we should be just as competitive.
Economic development, the costs and benefits, should be carefully considered and scrutinized. And Mississippi must continue to invest in its existing, homegrown businesses and industries. But, for the foreseeable future, if we want to stay in the game, we’ll have to be willing to cover the costs.
Next up: automaker Kia is eyeing the South, and who knows? That just might be a good game to get into.