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Bryant unveils new 'Mississippi Works' committee

JACKSON — Gov. Phil Bryant yesterday announced the creation of the “Mississippi Works” committee, a group tasked with spurring long-term economic development through new and established industries, from health care to energy.

Bryant announced the initiative to a crowd of hundreds who gathered at the Jackson Convention Center for the 63rd annual meeting of the Mississippi Economic Council. He said Mississippi Development Authority Director Jim Barksdale and businessman Bill Lampton would lead Mississippi Works, a group of 100 men and women from the business community.

Bryant said Mississippi should continue to encourage high tech jobs like those created at south Mississippi’s Stennis Space Center, an integral part of the U.S. space program. He also cited the example of KiOR, a leading biofuel company, which is building several plants in Mississippi in its efforts to make fuel from such products as wood chips.

He also said Mississippi is poised to grow as a leader in health care and could rival cities like Houston, Texas.

“This industry of necessity in health care is going to create thousands of jobs, high tech jobs for the medical community that will be right here in the (Jackson) metro area but also in Meridian and on the Gulf Coast and in Tupelo and throughout the state of Mississippi,” Bryant said.

Bryant said the Mississippi Works’ logo is fitting for the group. It’s an image of the state with a man using a shovel, an image widely known as symbolizing work.

“We are prepared to go to work in a high tech new world … We will send out the message that Mississippi works,’ he said.

Bryant, a Republican in his first year in office, said Mississippi Works has three main goals: to help craft a comprehensive strategy to expand economic opportunities; bring new investment to all regions of Mississippi; and provide a forum for business leaders to learn about new projects and opportunities in the state.

The group’s co-chairman, Jim Barksdale, said in a statement that Mississippi Works would lean on the expertise of business leaders “who have a strong track record of generating private sector jobs across the state.”

“It is critical we capitalize on the assets and the expertise we have to ensure our state is well-positioned for long-term economic development prospects, and Mississippi Works will do just that,” he said.

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