Economic leaders working to boost Mississippi business

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Leaders of the Mississippi Economic Council are traveling the state sharing ideas about boosting business in Mississippi. The group is holding a marathon tour that includes visits to 26 cities.

Bay St. Louis was the stopover on Wednesday.

"We can't lose sight of that consistent need to fully fund education," said Economic Council President Blake Wilson.

He calls education the key to improving economic prospects in Mississippi.

Wilson told members of the Bay St. Louis Rotary Club that the shaky economy demands thoughtful response, rather than a knee jerk reaction.

"We're responding by taking some good, long term steps. Continuing to make education a priority. Continuing to focus on the things that are important like improving our infrastructure," said Wilson.

Business owner Chuck Jung says the combination of a sagging economy and soaring insurance costs have created a tremendous challenge.

"Keeping enough business coming in to not have to downsize any. You know, it's going to get busier down the road. But you don't want to hire new people at that point. Keep the good ones you've already spent money training," said the owner of Bay Carpet & Flooring.

"It's a brand new paint your own pottery studio here in Old Town. We're trying to give people something else to do. Another reason to come to Old Town," said entrepreneur Yuki Northington, who recently opened Proudest Monkey on Main Street in Bay St. Louis.

Some people may question the timing of opening a new business with all the national economic woes. But while others say why, she thinks, why not?

"Well, you know what. You're either going to succeed or fail. And what's going to happen. You're going to lose everything? We've done that before. So, you have to try to make the best of things. You have to believe in the best," said Northington.

She said she and other Old Town merchants rely on Second Saturday business to help pay the bills. Like most business owners, they've also made adjustments.

"Everybody's got to tighten their belts. Everybody's watching every penny now," said Northington.