Notes from 2011 NE Mississippi Economic Forecast Conference

These are my raw and unedited notes from the conference held on January 27, 2011 in Tupelo.

Billy Crews, President of the Community Development Foundation (CDF’s), opened with mention of CDF’s 10-year strategic plan.  He said that the strengths of the region this year were (1) CDF, (2) MTD Products expansion (lawn mowers), (3) General Atomics expansion (aircraft launching system), (4) Cooper Tire and (5) Toyota (first Carolla to roll of in fall 2011).

Weakness/Opportunities – (1) current unemployment rate in the region, (2) education levels, especially college attainment lagging state and national levels and (3) selective leadership/civility – “we must be on the same team, pulling in the same direction.”

Crews quit job as CEO of NE MS Daily Journal to become COO of Tupelo Public School District.  “I did that because we cannot have a great community without great public schools.”

Mike Randle, publisher of Southern Business and Development and http://www.randlereport.com, opened his comments by pointing out that the 2011 Person of the Year by his magazine is “The Citizens of Oklahoma City – The city that keeps investing in itself.”

Last year (2009) was a bad year for Mississippi when it comes to major deals (200 or more jobs and/or $30mm investment), but Mississippi may be in the running for State of the Year for 2010.

Tupelo is one of only three communities in the South to win Small Community of the year.

Ranking of categories (jobs created of 200 or more) since 1992 (1) automotive, (2) call centers, (3) financial services, (4) distributors and (5) energy.

Top 15 Industries in the South (based on 200+ jobs)

1.  Energy – 39
2. Food & Beverage (34)
3.  Automotive (29)
4.  Oil & gas (23)
5.  Call centers (21)
6.  Chemicals (21)
7.  Headquarters (19)
8.  Financial centers (18)
Aerospace and aviation (18)
9.  Building materials (17)
10. Distribution (15)
Defense contractors (15)

Biggest sector losing jobs was service sector, not manufacturing.

The South does relative well during a recession because margins are tight for manufacturers – where else are they going to go.

A manufacturing “beachhead” will be created in the South in the next 10 years and in Mexico because that’s the only place for manufactures to go and make money.  Manufacturers will flee non-right-to-work states like never before.  For manufacturers, what’s going on with unions now cannot be sustained.  Prediction: mass migration of manufacturers to the South.  Randle predicted that Boeing will have one-half of its 75/80K employees in Washington state.  The rest will be in the South.

1997 was the year when the services sector began outperforming manufacturing (jobs 200+).  Stayed that way until 2007, when manufacturing started outperfroming services.

Manufacturing jobs in the South:

YEAR   NUMBER(millions)

2010     4.23
2009     4.37
2008     4.64
2007     5.11
2006     5.2
2005     5.54

Manufacturing jobs by region:  South – 4.23mm, Midwest – 3.14mm, Northeast – 2.3mm, West – 1.91mm.

“It’s technology that is taking people off the factory floor.”

In terms of GDP, if the South were a country it would be the 4th largest country, behind US, China and Japan – and ahead of Germany.

 

 

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