Incentives key to attracting business - - The News for South Mississippi

Incentives key to attracting business

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Since being named executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority in May, Brent Christensen says business is good.

"At the end of the day, we're selling Mississippi and the resources that it has," Christensen said.

To make that sale, Christensen says it all comes down to economic chess pieces called incentives.

"The primary reason for these is to add jobs and investment to the state of Mississippi," Christensen said.

From state tax credits and exemptions to grant and loan programs, Christensen says during the last five years, those incentives have helped to create more than 30,000 jobs and about $5 billion in investments for the state. It's all laid out in a new incentives report from the agency.

"Those are not small numbers. Those are strong numbers for this state," Christensen said.

To keep those numbers strong Christensen says the agency will be turning to lawmakers because some of those incentives are running low on cash.

"We've got a strong portfolio of incentives and so rather than changing them. Right now I think what we need to be focused on is replenishing them," Christensen said.

Even with financially backed incentives, not every economic deal turns successful. Sometimes companies go elsewhere which can often be a challenge.

"For every project that doesn't make it, there's a lot of projects out there that do and it's because of these standard programs that have been in place a long time and that we've found to be very successful," said MDA Chief Financial Officer Kathy Gelston.

Christensen says that comes with working closely with other state agencies even when economic times aren't so great.

"Certainly it's a challenging time economically, not only in this state but in the country but we're laser like focused," Christensen said.

The incentives report will become an annual publication from the agency.

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