Decisions made for the long term
Jerry St.P headed Mississippi's largest private employer Ingalls Shipbuilding long enough to know what attracts business and industry to our state. As an astute observer of business trends, a major participant in Mississippi's economic growth, and now as chief operating officer of Litton Ship Systems and executive vice president of Litton Industries, St. P has a message we all should heed.
He told The Meridian Star the other day businesses are making decisions for the long term and want to factor long term tax considerations into the equation. The growing reluctance of local governments to fully embrace the notion of tax abatements and incentives is cause for concern. Officials in the state's most heavily industrialized county, Jackson County, are rumbling about reducing the incentives offered over the long term to companies such as Litton, Chevron and others.
In time of tight budgets, this may be a natural inclination. But the plain truth in economic development, as Mississippi discovered again in wooing the Nissan plant to Madison County, is incentives work. Tax relief, financing workforce development and training, funding special transportation needs and the overall business climate may all contribute to reducing the cost of doing business.
That's where Mississippi's efforts should be directed helping relocating or expanding companies reduce their costs of doing business. After all, many of these companies are components of a larger corporate structure and do, in fact, compete within their own corporations for financing.
Corporations should be good citizens in Mississippi, but they have to be here first.