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As I See It

What we do: an essential source with more to come

Every week, the Mississippi Business Journal publishes this line on page one: “Mississippi’s Essential Source for Business News since 1979.” We’re not boasting. That line helps us define our mission to our readers, our advertisers, our stakeholders and the larger business community in the state.

We believe that this mission is of utmost importance, and our teams have worked diligently to pursue it.

Lately, I have been thinking of adding another element to our mission — a more active role in Mississippi business. We have long endeavored to be more than just a source of information. We are proponents of growing Mississippi’s economy to the benefit of everyone in the state. To this end, we spend considerable time and money in promoting education and training, interaction between government and industry and supporting efforts to bring more and better jobs to our state.

We’re in the design phase of even more active involvement in building our state’s economy. The measure of success for all economic development efforts is increasing the average per capita income for Mississippians and that will be our goal, as well. Mississippi is home, and we want to help move the state up the ladder of economic success. Our plans are still forming, but we’ll be initiating efforts along these lines in the coming months.

In the meantime, as I have been thinking about what we can do to build Mississippi’s economy, I have also been thinking about what everyone can do to help with this mission.

Making a difference

An economy is made up of all the financial transactions that take place within the state. Every purchase of goods and services impacts the economy in some small way. A change in the trend of how and where money is spent impacts the economy in a big way.

Let’s take the Make Mine Mississippi program, for example. The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce sponsors this program to promote spending money here at home. For manufacturers, and newspapers are technically classified as manufacturers, over half of the cost of production most be paid to Mississippi suppliers.

We have participated in this program since its inception and proudly display the Make Mine Mississippi logo on every issue of the Mississippi Business Journal. Printing, postage and people are the major costs of producing a newspaper and all of our printing is done here in Mississippi. In fact, in our 27-year history, come hell, high water or Hurricane Katrina, there has never been an issue of the Mississippi Business Journal printed outside the state, and we’re proud of that fact.

Encouraging more manufacturers to participate in the Make Mine Mississippi program would go a long way toward building the state’s economy. More dollars spent in the state means more dollars that stay in our economy to provide jobs for our folks.

I’ve noticed in recent years that more and more companies that sell through catalogs are collecting Mississippi sales tax. As irritating as that may be for some who are accustomed to avoiding sales tax on catalog orders, it really does help generate resources for our state government. In fact, though it’s not widely known, the state has always had a use tax that should be paid on out-of-state purchases. Collecting sales tax on Internet purchases is a hot potato, but eventually that too will be resolved and sales tax will be collected.
All this is merely to say that buying in state to the extent possible and practical makes economic sense if the goal is to build the state’s economy.

The single most important issue for driving the state’s economy is ever increasing the productivity of our workforce. Increased productivity means more value generated for each hour of labor exerted and results in higher value produced by the worker, which eventually finds its way into higher wages. If we could increase the productivity of our workforce by just 1% it would have a substantial impact on the average per capita income for the state.

Increased productivity requires investments in technology and training. Without these changes, everything stays the same. There are numerous programs, funding and tax incentives to drive improvements in equipment and worker skill. All that we have to do is take advantage of those programs and be open to improvements.

These are a smattering of what we’ll be pushing over the coming months and years as we move into a more active role in promoting economic growth in Mississippi. Our goal is clear and the commitment we have is strong.

Forty years later…

On a personal note, we had our 40th high school class reunion last weekend. Since I’m writing this in advance, I don’t know how things went. However, I’m confident that a good time was had by all. I graduated from Raymond High School and even though our class was small and many settled in this area, I haven’t seen many of my classmates since graduation.

I was skinny and red-headed back then so I have no doubt that re-introductions will be necessary in some cases. Of course, many of them won’t look like I remember them either. One thing that I can tell you for sure is that it doesn’t seem like 40 years have passed since I graduated from high school.

Thought for the Moment

Few men during their lifetime come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used. — Aviator and explorer Richard Byrd (1888-1957)

Joe D. Jones, CPA (retired), is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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