“Worry, worry, worry, worry. Worry just will not seem to leave my mind alone” – from Ray Lamontagne’s “Trouble”.
Sure fits our economy.
Unemployment hit 12% in January. All but eight counties reported double digit unemployment; four had over 20%.
Northrop Grumman pulled out of the Air Force tanker competition. Alabama Senator Richard Shelby fumed, “This so-called competition was not structured to produce the best outcome for our men and women in uniform. It was structured to produce the best outcome for Boeing.”
Have no doubt, national politics played a role in the “revised” Air Force selection criteria. It also aided the now dead decision to locate a Northrop facility near Mobile, and influenced the original failed effort to lease tankers from Boeing. Politics is par for the course in major procurement programs.
The bogey here is the heavy-handed politics that came after Boeing lost a heads up competition and the Air Force officially awarded the contract to Northrop. Many Mississippians counted on getting some of those 1,500 high-paying jobs.
At a time when the Coast is suffering double digit unemployment, some want to kill the 6,500 job Port of Gulfport expansion. They complain that Katrina CDBG funds are being “diverted” from housing. Anyone plugged into negotiations knows the CDBG program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development was picked by Congress as the vehicle for Katrina funds because it was the most flexible existing program. All understood that funds would be adjusted as needed for housing, infrastructure, and economic recovery. Port expansion is crucial to the Coast’s economic recovery.
Struggling Toyota is now two years or more away from hiring workers at its Blue Springs plant. Only 70 of the projected 2,000 workers have been hired.
“Hello? Yes, Memaw, I know it was worse in your day. Yes, Ma’am, I will remember to count my blessings.”
Well, Toyota does continue to meet its contribution commitments. And area leaders remain convinced production will start when car sales improve.
And, in the midst of the economic downturn in 2009, MDA did land 26 projects that will bring 2,026 new jobs.
And, ThyssenKrupp will start up its giant facility north of Mobile this spring. The plant now has over 700 employees, adding about 30 a week. The German steelmaker plans to grow to 2,700 employees when the carbon and stainless units reach full capacity. Hundreds of these jobs are expected to be filled by Mississippians who live just across the state line.
And, a number of industries are bringing back laid off workers, the Port expansion remains on track, and MDA continues to land new projects.
Yes, Ma’am, the sun has come out and flowers are blooming.