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Entrepreneurs Corner: How do we stack up?

The business-friendly Mecca most government agencies would have you believe is Mississippi may not be the case

Mississippi is a large state with outstanding natural resources, an excellent mid-South strategic location with an attractive transportation network, strong cultural foundations, great beaches and a mild climate. We have a willing workforce, good agriculture and manufacturing facilities, excellent universities and, of course, a long boundary with the great river that shares our name. Most of us love living here. Put it all together and from our point of view as Mississipians, it paints a positive picture of the Magnolia State, right?

Recently, I received a call from a businessman who is relocating from the suburbs of Atlanta to Mississippi to open and manage a small office with less than 10 employees. We had an interesting conversation about his perceptions of Mississippi as compared with other Southern states in which he has lived and worked.

He told me of the research he had done prior to his move, and wondered to what extent the business community in Mississippi is aware of the differences between our state and others.

Let me say, first, that his concerns were not grounded in the subjective.  We all know how we’re treated on the national comedy circuit, and we’ve long since learned to discount those barbs.

His points were along other lines.  He talked about housing, sales and income taxes, health, transportation, insurance and other factors. My immediate inclination was to dismiss some of his observations, because they didn’t seem accurate.  He suggested that I spend some time looking at the information for myself.

“For companies that are looking to move operations to Mississippi, these are the kinds of things that matter,” he insisted. “It goes deeper than image or perception.”

I didn’t get the impression that he was in any way seeking to criticize or “bash” the Magnolia State, but that he genuinely felt that from a business perspective, there are some things that don’t necessarily cast us in the most favorable light.

I decided to take up his challenge, and do some research for myself in the areas he suggested. The results in many cases were surprising.

The question is: how do we stack up against other states in our region? Obviously, it’s in the best interests of our state and citizenry that we present the best and most positive face to business if we expect to grow and progress in the next 10-20 years. So what do others see when they research us? What do they consider when they’re deciding whether to locate a business here or elsewhere?

In coming weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the information that came to light in my search. But before I do, I’d like to hear from some of our readers with your views on how we stack up.

In the areas mentioned above —  housing, sales and income taxes, health, transportation, insurance—how do you feel Mississippi compares with other states? In what categories do you think we have advantages? Disadvantages?

I’d like to share some of your thoughts and comments, along with the information I gleaned in my search. The objective is, of course, to create a dialogue on important and meaningful considerations that can help or hinder us down the road.

I’d love to hear your thoughts: please drop me an email at alan.turner@msbusiness.com. Let me know whether it’s okay to use your name, or you’d prefer to be anonymous.

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