PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - It was a who's who of economic brainpower in Pascagoula Wednesday as the Mississippi Economic Council gathered to receive input from local business leaders. How to turn around the state's economy was the question of the day.
But despite the state's current economic woes, the outlook is upbeat. And the consumer is key, according to Blake Wilson, the director of the council.
"We're seeing some cautious optimism about hiring, but I don't think we're going to see a full recovery for another year or so because it will take time for the consumer end to catch up," Wilson said.
And when the recovery begins in the state, the banking industry will be leading the charge with a conservative approach. That's the opinion of Lt. Governor Phil Bryant.
"They've been very careful about where they are at" Bryant said. "They've tried to loan money to small businesses that they know are going to try and build this economy. But we've been very careful, again, not to loan money because of political purposes, but for financial reasons."
While the future for the Mississippi economy certainly isn't a rosy picture, it does fare a lot better than many other states, some of which are on the verge of bankruptcy.
"I think Mississippi is probably a little better off than a lot of places," said Mayo Flynt, President of AT&T Mississippi. "We didn't experience as much as a boom, so our bust has not been as significant either. And I think Mississippi is well positioned to take advantage of the recovery."
And that recovery will be led not just by the folks meeting Wednesday in Pascagoula, but also the people who go into our stores and restaurants.