Opinion: Mississippi bounces back

Covid hit Mississippi’s economy particularly hard. Tens of thousands of jobs disappeared as unemployment rose to 16 percent. In the second quarter of 2020, a record number of businesses went bust, filing for Chapter 11 protection.

However devastating the pandemic, Covid has not destroyed America’s spirit of enterprise. Data just in from the US Census Bureau shows a remarkable rise in the number of new businesses being set up. And you know what’s most encouraging? 

The state with the biggest surge in new business applications nationwide is Mississippi.

In January this year, over 6,000 new businesses were started in this state.  That meant a 164 percent surge in new businesses registering compared with January last year.

This entrepreneurial spirit is just one reason why unemployment in our state has fallen dramatically from its peak last year, and is now down below the national average.

This surge in start-ups is great news for the future. Growth does not happen because politicians arrange for big businesses to set up shop in our state via all kinds of inducements. Real growth comes when we create the right conditions that enable small start-ups to expand.

At the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, we are promoting policies that will allow entrepreneurs to flourish. That means taking steps to deregulate our state’s economy. 

Too many areas of economic activity in Mississippi require some sort of official’s authorization or permit. There are too many boards and commissions in Jackson able to fix the system to keep out the competition. Far too many jobs require unnecessary certification.

If Mississippi is to grow the way Tennessee or Florida have been growing, we need a red tape reduction plan.  That means systematically going through the rule book and throwing out unreasonable regulations that hold entrepreneurs back.

Mississippi needs lower taxes, too. There has been lots of encouraging talk about abolishing personal income tax. I think we need to stop taxing entrepreneurs’ inventories, too.

In order to ensure that Mississippi policy-makers help, rather than hinder, innovation, we have just launched the Mississippi Tech Institute. We aim to remove those regulatory obstacles that risk holding our state back.

When folks think about innovation, they often imagine tech start-ups. Important though these are, here in Mississippi there is enormous potential for innovation in other areas, too, such as agriculture and energy production.

The spirit of enterprise is alive and well in Mississippi. Our task is to get big government out of its way.

It is precisely because Mississippi is a relatively small state that we can be nimble, making the kind of changes we need and serving as an example to the rest of America.

Douglas Carswell, President & CEO, Mississippi Center for Public Policy, Cell: + 1 (601) 249-7463, Twitter: @douglascarswell, carswell@mspolicy.org