By Ted Carter
Is that a light at the end of the economic tunnel we’re seeing?
Could be, according to the triennial Mississippi Economic Council-Godwin Group Economic State of the State survey.
The survey, performed on behalf of the State Chamber of Commerce and the Mississippi Economic Council, polled 300 voting age residents and 300 business people in the state. Eight of 10 business leaders and voters alike rate the current economy as bad, but nearly one-third (32 percent) of business leaders think the economy is getting better and over one-forth (28 percent) expect they will have more employees by next year.
“The better news is that only 7 percent expect to have fewer employees,” the Mississippi Economic Council said in a press statement.
Voters, on the other hand, aren’t sharing the same level of confidence in an economic rebound as business people polled. Among voters, 34 percent believe the economy is getting worse. By contrast, 32 percent of business people polled cited improvement in the economy.
The survey shows “significant optimism among business leaders,” said Blake Wilson, the Council’s president & CEO.
Wilson said business people can be expected to feel a sense of optimism earlier than voters because they are closer to the marketplace. Voters “aren’t feeling as bullish but they aren’t the ones seeing the increase in orders,” Wilson said.
While voters and business people alike said they think the state has done a good job with economic development and that Mississippi competes well with other states for new jobs, they want education and workforce development to be among the state’s highest priorities, the survey report said.
The Economic Council plans to visit 20 Mississippi communities starting in January to detail the findings of the survey and to do further polling – this time with electronic voting machines.
Wilson said the tour will also be part of campaign to encourage Mississippi to be bold in its vision for economic development, to adopt a “Texas-sized attitude” about it.
The council further sees the tour as an opportunity to promote education and workforce preparation as key issues in the soon-to-begin state political campaigns. “These are the real issues of the coming election year,” Wilson said.
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