Governor Phil Bryant
P. O. Box 139
Jackson, Mississippi 39205
Dear Governor Bryant:
I reviewed the Opportunity Zone Map for Hancock County, which was released to the press on April 23, and as a citizen of Waveland, was very surprised to see my city’s struggling downtown business district “carved” out of the zone eligible for the Federal tax abatements to attract investors to our area.
My first reaction was, “who could do this to us?!” It was a surprising and disappointing revelation to learn through the U. S. Department of the Treasury representative, Jeff Merkowitz, that it was, in fact, our own Governor who selected and nominated the eligible census tracts within our state for designation as Qualified Opportunity Zones.
The purpose of my letter is to ask you, as the person who made this decision, what criteria you used to determine that our entire neighboring city of Bay St. Louis, including their already thriving downtown area, and highway corridor, was entitled to be an Opportunity Zone, and downtown Waveland was not.
Blaine LaFontaine, president of the Hancock County Board of Supervisors, said, “We are grateful not one, but two census tracts in Hancock County were selected for this opportunity. We hope that private investment and incentives will help provide long-term investments to decrease poverty and increase per capita incomes in our community.”
Here LaFontaine correctly repeats the theory behind the program as did Bill Cork in his remarks. Here is some more reaction:
Waveland Mayor Mike Smith said, “Waveland is very excited to be a part of the opportunity zone which offers tax relief to investors. It will be the shot in the arm that our community needs to spur development and create very needed jobs.”
Glenn McCullough Jr., executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, said global companies know the advantages of the state’s productive workforce coupled with our superior business climate. “By adding Qualified Opportunity Zones, investing in Mississippi becomes an even more logical business decision for companies looking to locate or expand in our state,” he said.
As we read those last two remarks everyone began to giggle behind the scenes here at Slabbed. Here in Mississippi the MDA is more well known for its multi-million dollar boondoggles and by linking the tax relief Opportunity Zones offers investors with job creation both Mayor Smith and McCullough stepped out in a big way because there is no such linkage between jobs and investment in the program. In fact one naturally wonders if Mayor Smith actually saw the map of the designated area because Waveland was largely EXCLUDED from it. Here is a screen capture of the map of the local Opportunity Zone area: Continue reading “And they “sniffed the reeking buns of Angel acted like it was cocaine”……”
Platinum sponsors of the event are: Hancock Bank, Aerojet Rocketdyne, American Medical Response, Coast Electric Power Association, Hancock County Tourism Development Bureau, Hollywood Casino – Gulf Coast, Bob & Barbara Huet, Mississippi Power Company, and Silver Slipper Casino & Hotel.
Gold sponsors of the event are: Chemours DeLisle Plant, James J. Chiniche, P. A., Inc. Engineering & Surveying, Dunbar Village, Hancock County Library System, Keesler Federal Credit Union, Lazy Magnolia Brewery, John McDonald Realty, Southern Mississippi Planning & Development District, The Library Foundation of Hancock County, and The Peoples Bank.
First up kudos to all the local private businesses that have stepped up to support their public interest group. That said, when the Library and Tourism folks show up poor mouthing their budgets while asking the Bay City Council for taxpayer handouts, maybe they should be asked about how they spend the tax money they already receive. That said this is not the only story in yesterday’s Echo that was worth reading:
And despite the overwhelming evidence these taxpayer Film incentives are spend a dollar to gain a quarter type propositions that make absolutely no economic sense, one of the major accomplishments of the 2015 Mississippi legislature was finally instituting this taxpayer funded giveaway to out of state business interests. Its not that the leadership in this state being backwards that makes this so bad. Its that the leadership is both late and backwards that helps keep us snake bit when it comes to economic development. Meantime the fools play (with your tax money). Continue reading “As the fools play: Pissin’ away your tax dollars”
Finally I note the passing of attorney/blogger Tom Freeland of Oxford over the weekend. Tom’s contributions to the online scene here in Mississippi were immense. He was a talented writer whose ongoing work online will be missed.
This is a topic whose time for exploration across the South is really past due. That said Gordon Russell and the gang at the Advocate put out a whopper of a first installment on Louisiana’s corporate welfare programs, which are being funded off the backs of its colleges and universities:
Finally the local GOP is formally disavowing Louisiana PSC candidate Forest Wright, whose RINO baggage was first rolled out here on Slabbed back in September in response to party faithful contacting me. With PSC Candidate Eric Skrmetta being endorsed in commercials by folks like Steve Scalise, Forest Wright is now on the defensive with ads like the following hitting the airways:
As seemingly everyone in the two state area now knows, Chiquita is vacating the Port of Gulfport in favor of the Port of New Orleans and the Slabbed Nation is clamoring for some sage analysis. As luck would have it, my becoming a bananaman derives from the same event from which the name of this website derives, Hurricane Katrina. Everyone knows that Chiquita imports bananas into the US via Gulfport’s (soon to be New Orleans) Break Bulk cargo facility from Central America. The company backhauls huge paper rolls to Central America that are used to make the banana boxes used for shipping. Here is what my neighborhood looked like after the storm when the rocket scientists at the Port made the call to leave everything in place before the storm:
Most of the rolls clustered at Broad Street and Highway 90 but a few even made it to my neighborhood proper:
So folks, for those of you that will not be bankrupted by the NFIP rate increases will need to dig deeper to keep the lights on. I wonder what rocket scientist dreamed up the idea of sticking the poorest state in the union with the cost of President Obama’s environmental policies?
Folks you can typically tell at a business conference who the hard-core GOPers are by spotting the guys on their knees licking the wingtip shoes of the big business representatives in attendance. I’m sad to say it appears most in the modern-day GOP share this affliction of favoring the corporate folks that stuff big money in their pockets over the local folks that elect them but it is what it is. So I guess none of us should be surprised at the new normal where the GOP controlled House of Representatives has no problem extending billions in taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies while literally chopping off local Corp of Engineers wetland projects at the knees barring new construction starts even on projects with funding in the pipeline.
The Louisiana GOP delegation is MIA on this of course while their party craps all over the local populace but we witnessed Mississippi’s own Steven Palazzo cutting big money from a defense project being constructed in his own district endangering the jobs of thousands of folks in the process so none of this is new. Unfortunately none of these sellouts shared any of those specifics when they were campaigning to “fire” Nancy Pelosi last year while gorging on Wall Street funded campaign cash.
The country is heading into the crapper faster now than ever with the draining of our treasury by special interests leading the way. They won’t stop until there is nothing left folks.