Gov. Phil Bryant is urging legislators to approve three bills that are key to economic development and job creation in the state. One bill promotes the growth of sustainable energy sources; another provides incentives for job creation in the health care industry; the third establishes a committee of small-business representatives to gauge the business-friendliness of state laws.
Gov. Bryant spoke about the importance of these bills at the annual Business and Industry Political Education Committee luncheon. He remarked that it is important for Mississippi to foster an environment where businesses can grow and hire more workers.
"To nurture job creation and economic growth, we must focus on key components that contribute to development: creating a skilled workforce, reducing government regulations that hinder growth and identifying sectors of the economy that are ripe for expansion," Gov. Bryant said. "We have unprecedented opportunities in energy development and health care expansion, and it is my goal to help take these sectors to the next level."
House Bill 1330, the Energy Sustainability and Development Act of 2012, aims to increase energy jobs, development and research. The act creates the Biomass Center for Excellence to encourage and coordinate biomass research, development and industry. Mississippi is home to notable biomass producers, and Bryant hopes that the legislation will encourage expansion in the industry.
The measure encourages further growth in the private sector by defining incentives for businesses to make energy efficiency upgrades. Business can invest savings into operations and workforce expansion.
The measure also requires Mississippi to develop a statewide energy plan to forecast energy needs and deficiencies. To increase energy savings, the state would also track energy consumption in its buildings and develop cost-saving strategies to improve energy efficiency.
Bryant is also urging the Legislature to take action to expand Mississippi's health care economy.
House Bill 1537 aims to foster development in the health care industry by providing incentives for health care-related businesses to locate in designated Health Care Zones.
The passage of the legislation is crucial for the state, Bryant said.
"As I have said before, health care is an industry of necessity, and Mississippi has a great opportunity to not only create more jobs but to be a leader in health care innovation. We can become a place people from around the nation and beyond come to seek outstanding medical care."
Through the legislation, counties that have hospitals with a certificate of need for at least 375 acute care hospital beds can be declared by the Mississippi Development Authority as a Health Care Zone. The House on Wednesday passed an amendment to extend Health Care Zone eligibility to Lafayette County with the provision that the county build a qualifying hospital by 2017.
Special incentives would encourage health-related business sectors like pharmaceutical research and development, biotechnology, medical product manufacturing and distribution, laboratory testing and diagnostic imaging to establish new operations in a Health Care Zone. To qualify for incentives, companies must make an investment of at least $10 million and create a minimum of 25 permanent full-time jobs.
Finally, Gov. Bryant is encouraging the Senate to approve House Bill 1186, which creates a volunteer committee of current and former small business owners and officers to work with state agencies to ensure government regulations are not harmful to small businesses.
"This legislation ensures that small businesses have a voice and that regulations are not unduly burdensome," said Gov. Bryant. "Small businesses make up the bulk of our employers in Mississippi, and I will not stand for job-killing regulations that hinder growth."