Musgrove deserves the heat he's getting over Hyundai project

By Staff
March 3, 2002
Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is taking a lot of political heat for the decision by Hyundai to eliminate Mississippi from its short list of places to build a billion-dollar automotive manufacturing plant. As best we can tell from what we've read and been told, the criticism is justified.
As a private company Hyundai certainly must choose the best location it can find for its manufacturing operations. But some unanswered questions are circulating about Musgrove's role in the process.
By insisting that Hyundai seriously look only at a site in Pelahatchie within a few miles of Nissan's plant in Canton, Musgrove may have sealed the project's fate before it ever got a good foothold in Mississippi. While company officials did ultimately explore other sites elsewhere in the state, including at least a cursory look at property in east Mississippi, Musgrove's stubborn streak was apparently a factor in Hyundai's decision.
First, why would our state's governor do such a thing when he knew both Nissan and Hyundai had serious reservations about finding highly-skilled workers in such a narrow geographical area in central Mississippi. Nissan wrote and subsequently released to the public a letter detailing its fears and reminding our governor of commitments made when it located in Madison County.
Second, why would our governor attempt to steer Hyundai to a site with known soil problems, the infamous Yazoo clay that makes for treacherous and expensive building techniques. Maybe he under-estimated the intelligence and exhaustive research conducted by Hyundai's site selection consultants.
Third, why would our governor apparently go out of his way to rebuff other areas of the state with willing, trainable workers and potentially acceptable sites.
While it is easy to criticize our public officials when things go wrong, the Hyundai episode leaves questions that Musgrove will have to answer for himself. Maybe by 2003, the year of the next statewide elections, he will think of something that will satisfy a curious electorate. And, maybe, just maybe, one day he will suddenly bolt upright with the startling revelation that he is governor of the whole state.

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