The sky is not falling
Most of us remember the children’s story of “Chicken Little.” While walking through the barnyard, an acorn fell on her head. She went about the barnyard telling every animal she met that the sky was about to fall. It didn’t. The “talking heads” of television news have been telling you the same story for quite some time. Again, the sky is not falling, nor do I expect it to do so in the future.
Here in Tupelo, I attended a ribbon cutting for a new, beautiful hotel last week. Another hotel has just completed an additional 30 rooms to accompany an existing 100. Another new hotel is under construction. As a matter of fact, the City of Tupelo has more commercial construction in progress than any time within the past year. We are also building new homes and more than 200 brand new apartments in two developments are under construction.
True, some areas of business have slowed, but you couldn’t detect it the past several weekends. Thousands of visitors attended a baseball tournament, 600 boys and girls participated in a gymnastic competition and the BancorpSouth Coliseum just had a record attendance of 9,400-plus for a music event.
In the past year, 188 new businesses created 995 new jobs in Tupelo. Traffic to and from the Mall at Barnes Crossing is congested on a regular basis.
It is true that people have lost jobs, particularly in manufacturing, but importantly, there are 51,460 people working in Lee County. Bear in mind, this is a county of slightly less than 80,000 in total population.
Toyota has delayed the start of production at their new facility, but construction work is still going on. Toyota will manufacture Prius at this facility and more than 4,000 good, new jobs will be created. More will be created in the future.
Recently, I read that the average age of a car in the United States was 9.6 years. Cars are built better today and they last longer, but eventually every one of them will be replaced. Car sales are slow today but the future sales picture is very bright.
Home sales have also slowed. You have heard about the foreclosures and delinquent payments, but has anyone mentioned that 95 percent of Americans are not delinquent, or the fact that many Americans live in homes that are debt free? I believe that today is an excellent time to purchase a home that your family needs and can afford. Interest rates for mortgages are at historic lows and prices are the best that they have been in years.
Economic recessions are not fun. They have occurred throughout history, but they always end. The current one will, too. America is the greatest country on earth. Do not make the mistake of betting against her. You will surely lose. Don’t believe Chicken Little either — the sky is not falling.
Ed Neely, Mayor of Tupelo, contributed this Op-Ed column for the Mississippi Business Journal. For a public official or newsmaker to contribute an Op-Ed column, contact MBJ managing editor Ross Reily at email@example.com.