By LYNN LOFTON
A website by the Secretary of State’s office to promote economic development in Mississippi has attracted a large number of visitors since its Sept. 30 launch.
The site, www.YallBusiness.sos.ms.gov, brings together economic, census and consumer data into one comprehensive website. It also has a link on the main Secretary of State website. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann says the site has already had approximately 10,000 visitors from every state and many foreign countries.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for 30 years during my time of representing small businesses,” Hosemann said. “I’ve always known they have phenomenal abilities if they have the same information as the big companies. When they have this information, small businesses can compete better and make profitable business decisions.”
Hosemann and his office are committed to keeping the site updated with current, sufficient information. This information will help business owners with expansions, new locations, or perhaps be the determining factor of not starting a business.
“One of the best news items we’ve had is that we’re able to sell Mississippi worldwide with this site because the first thing visitors see is the state and all the things they may not know about us,” he said. “They can go from county to county or to the metro areas.”
Hosemann is pleased with the amount of positive feedback he’s received from economic development people in the state. “They tell me they can send the link to the site when they’re asked questions,” he said. “Several have told me that what would have taken them months to compile is there on the site in a comprehensive format.”
Detailed information on YallBusiness includes data on registered businesses, banking and insurance, health, education, people, agriculture, public lands, transportation, taxes and technology. “No other state has a centralized location for this information,” Hosemann said. “Small businesses didn’t have the money to compile this information and now the state provides it free. It’s fully automated, too. We want everybody to use the site. It was paid for by the taxpayers and will help us all.”
The secretary’s office took approximately two years to get the site going, involving a significant amount of groundwork. Much of that groundwork was accomplished during Hosemann’s first term in office when data, such as the 1,000+ LLC laws, were re-loaded. “Once we had a good base, we were able to turn our attention to this site,” he said. “I feel comfortable we started out with a good platform, but a significant amount of data will be added regularly and tweaked as we see trends.”
The site includes the projected growth for each of the state’s 82 counties and where that growth will be. Visitors to the site can pinpoint a location on a map, determine traffic counts, drive times, school district information and retail marketing data. “We can even show how many times people ate at a fast food restaurant in the last six months. There are thousands and thousands of pieces of consumer data; even such things as the number of electronics in counties, something that indicates technology growth,” Hosemann said.
The website was developed by The Geospatial Group, a Mississippi company. In a news release from the Secretary of State’s office, Gary Hennington, president of The Geospatial Group, said: “Working with the Secretary of State’s office, we have combined close to four hundred categories of freely available and sometimes difficult to access information from federal and state agencies into a single site that can be used to explore potential areas for your business.”