A state with potential, that's how U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development describes Mississippi. The secretary spent the day seeing sites in need of development. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.
Governor Phil Bryant escorted U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson to a variety of places in Mississippi Thursday. Carson was in the Magnolia State to talk about encouraging businesses to invest in depressed areas. His impression of Mississippi?
"When I think about Mississippi. The word that comes to mind is potential, so much potential here," said Carson.
Carson talked about touring the Vickburg Sawmill, a business that nearly went under, was bought and now employs 125 people. The company is designated an Opportunity Zone. It receives tax incentives through the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Carson says the goal is to stimulate long-term investments in low-income communities. He says HUD will lead a new government Opportunity and Revitalization council to encourage private businesses to invest in depressed communities.
"What that will do is obviously create people who are self-sufficient but it will also increase the tax base of our country. It will basically be a tide that lifts all boats," said Carson.
To that end, Governor Phil Bryant showed Carson some areas of Jackson that need revitalization to help spur interest.
"We rode down Farish Street so we could talk about how we might be able to restore that. We offered a number of opportunities that we have in Jackson, educational opportunities, infrastructure opportunities to restore the capitol city," said Bryant.
Carson made his remarks at Operation Shoestring, a non-profit organization that provides an after school program in a depressed area of Jackson. They receive a HUD grant.