By JACK WEATHERLY
Mississippi’s largest cities struck out in competition for best places to start a business, according to WalletHub, a financial services company that does studies on financial and economic matters.
None of its big cities show up in the WalletHub rankings for 2018.
Memphis, which, of course, is in Tennessee on the Mississippi border, ranks 84th, and its economic reach includes four Mississippi counties – DeSoto, Tate, Marshall and Tunica.
Several of Mississippi’s small cities fare better. Tupelo ranks 40th, Meridian is 102nd and Gulfport is 291st out of 1,261 towns.
Tupelo is the capital of the furniture-making industry in northeast Mississippi.
But that industry took a major hit in 2000, losing a lot of jobs to offshore competition, according to David Rumbarger, president and chief executive of the Community Development Foundation of Tupelo/Lee County.
Tupelo established an incubator in 2006 to offset that loss, Rumbarger said.
Hyperion Technology Group, a graduate of the incubator, announced Tuesday that it will add 25 engineering and technology jobs.
“Being the only [city] in Mississippi to be in the top 100 is certainly a high honor,” Rumbarger said.
Calls to the East Mississippi Business Development Corp. in Meridian, which was rated No. 102, were not returned.
Gulfport, rated 291, is part of the Gulfport-Biloxi metropolitan statistical area, which includes five counties. Its estimated population for 2014 was 427,322.
That puts it closer to the Jackson MSA’s estimated 579,229 for 2016, the 95th largest in the nation.
The Memphis MSA, 84th in the WalletHub ranking, has a population of about 1.3 million.
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