You couldn't see it on the tracks, but the Mississippi Express rolled into Gulfport. You could hear the express when Blake Wilson blew his train whistle. Wilson wore the Mississippi Express conductor's hat.
The man in charge of the Mississippi Economic Council is going around the state, meeting with business leaders. They're talking about what the state should do next year to improve its financial outlook.
"The best way to do it is to go out and meet face-to-face with 2,000 business leaders," Wilson said. "Through this process, we gather good anecdotal research."
The MEC is a business based lobbyist group. In the past, it pushed for teacher pay raises. Last fall and winter, it fought for significant tort reform.
"It's remarkable the progress that was made here in Mississippi in such a short period of time," Wilson said, referring to the new tort reform legislation passed by lawmakers.
The tort reform changes were approved at the same time the U.S. Chamber did a survey that ranked Mississippi as one of the worst states for business development. Blake Wilson said he expects that ranking to improve next year.
"What I'm hopeful is that as the process roles on," said Wilson, "the council will start to realize the significant progress made here in Mississippi. At this time next year, if the U.S. Chamber does that survey again, and I suspect that they will, we'll see Mississippi start moving up the list."
Gulfport was stop number four on the Mississippi Express 25 city tour.