State makes Top 10 growth' list

By Staff
From staff and wire reports
March 14, 2002
JACKSON  Ongoing investment in central Mississippi by automotive manufacturing giant Nissan helped fuel the state's ranking in the national top 10 for new and expanded facilities in 2001.
Mississippi tied for seventh place with Georgia and South Carolina, according to Site Selection magazine. Illinois was first, followed by Kentucky and New York.
States were ranked based on 10 criteria, including the number of new and expanded facilities last year, capital investment in new and expanded facilities and three-year industrial growth.
It was Mississippi's first time on Site Selection's list since Gov. Ronnie Musgrove was elected, although the state made the magazine's list for projects announced during the 1990s during former Gov. Kirk Fordice's administration.
The ranking comes just days after South Korean automaker Hyundai eliminated Mississippi from its short list of potential locations for a billion-dollar plant. The state also lost 13,400 manufacturing jobs last year, and the trend has continued in 2002. The state's latest unemployment rate of 6.9 percent is the highest in a year and a half.
This ranking confirms what we've known all along that Mississippi can compete with anyone, anytime, anywhere,'' Gov. Ronnie Musgrove said at a Capitol news conference.
The magazine cited the ongoing investment in central Mississippi by suppliers building near Nissan Motor Co.'s $930 million auto plant in Madison County. The facility, scheduled to open next year, eventually will employ 4,000 people.
Musgrove said he was particularly proud of the designation considering that the industrial growth cited by the magazine came in the midst of a national recession.
The governor touted his Advantage Mississippi Initiative and said it was a key to the addition of 21,000 jobs in the state since he took office in January 2000.
Advantage Mississippi is a two-year-old package of programs and incentives designed to help the Mississippi Development Authority attract new industry.
Musgrove and MDA executive director Bob Rohrlack said it was important to use the state's recent successes, such as luring Nissan, as a foundation for creating more high-paying jobs.
Even though the country is facing difficult times, we are not going to slow down our efforts to grow Mississippi,'' Musgrove said.
The honor was announced a day before Rohrlack appears before the Legislature's Senate Finance Committee for confirmation hearings. Rohrlack became the state's economic development chief in early December, replacing J.C. Burns.
The two states still in the running for Hyundai's proposed $1 billion U.S. auto plant also made Site Selection's top 10 Kentucky at No. 2 and Alabama at No. 8. So did Ohio (No. 10), which was dropped from consideration by the South Korean automaker along with Mississippi last month.

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