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Recession cuts projects by more than half

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — According to information from the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), the recession cut the number of new and expanded facilities in the state in 2009 by more than half and decreased capital investments by more than $500 million when compared to 2008.

The MDA is quick to note that the information in its “New and Expanded Facilities Announced in Mississippi” database has not been verified and is gleaned from numerous sources. It is not comprehensive or exact, but it is the only database of its kind available and offers a good “snapshot” into where investments in facilities and jobs are being made — or not.

The size of the report itself is a good indicator of just how bad 2009 has been compared to 2008. The 2008 report is 54 pages long. The 2009 report is a mere 36 pages.

In 2008, the MDA database showed 442 new and expanded facilities announced in Mississippi, which were expected to create an estimated 6,356 new jobs and represented a capital investment of approximately $5.267 billion.

In 2009, there are only 213 projects. The estimated number of new jobs created is 5,851 while the estimated capital investment is $4.763 billion.

In 2008, 14 counties recorded no new or expansion projects. In 2009, that number grew to 25 counties, while another 26 counties recorded just one project. (Ten counties did not record a single project in 2008 or 2009. They are Benton, Carroll, Claiborne, Covington, Franklin, Issaquena, Itawamba, Jefferson Davis, Quitman and Wilkinson counties.)

The county with the largest estimated capital investment in 2009 was Jackson County at 1.525 billion, but the lion’s share of that total went to one project — the $1.5-billion Gulf Liquefied Natural Gas plant in Pascagoula. The second-largest investment was in Harrison County (1.065 billion) and Hinds County ($340.486 million).

In terms of estimated number of new jobs created, Harrison County ranks first with 1,774, followed by Tishomingo County (725 jobs) and Adams County (445 jobs).

In 2009, Hinds County led the state in the number of new and expanded facilities announced at 32. Rankin County was second with 18 and Forrest County and Harrison County both had 15.

On an individual project basis, the largest investments were Gulf Liquefied Natural Gas, ATK Space Systems and Sensors-Iuka Operations ($230 million) and the A-3 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County ($175 million).

Ranked by the estimated number of new jobs created, the Mississippi State Port at Gulfport was tops with 1,700 jobs, followed by ATK (625 jobs) and the Federal Correctional Facility-Yazoo City (300 jobs).

About Wally Northway

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