Blackmon says state should offer more help to small businesses
By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
June 28, 2003
State Sen. Barbara Blackmon of Canton said she would try to help small businesses in Mississippi create new jobs if elected lieutenant governor.
Blackmon kicked off her campaign this week for the Democratic Party nomination. She also discussed her platform during a meeting with The Meridian Star editorial board.
Blackmon is a 12-year veteran of the state Senate. She meets Itta Bena resident Troy D. Brown Sr. and former state Supreme Court Justice Jim Roberts in the Aug. 5 Democratic primary.
The winner will meet GOP incumbent Amy Tuck in the Nov. 4 general election.
At stake is one of Mississippi's most powerful offices. Besides serving as second-in-command of the state, the lieutenant governor also presides over the state Senate and can help set the legislative agenda.
The Meridian Star: When you announced your candidacy as lieutenant governor, you said your top priority is jobs. How do you plan to bring more jobs to Mississippi?
Barbara Blackmon: We provided legislation allowing Mississippi to form alliances with Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana for areas where we can pool our resources to attract businesses. We can look at more funding for the legislation we passed last session dealing with rural economies where we allow for infrastructure improvements.
Under our existing law, we don't allow for expansions dealing with replacing technology. We say a new business has to come in and we'll give them funds or grants for their new technology, but we won't give an existing business resources for expansion. And I propose we change that law to put small existing businesses on the same level with new businesses where they would be able to replace outdated equipment.
We can provide additional resources for our small business loan program and grants. Small businesses in Mississippi comprise 85 percent of our businesses. All some businesses need is $5,000 or $10,000. If we created a pool like we did for Nissan a $100 million pool those mom and pop businesses would be able to expand. They may not be able to hire but two or three people, but to those people in those communities that's a significant impact.
At the state level right now, we have a small business division. But the division hasn't really ever had the proper resources because we have always been trying to go after the giants and we haven't been concentrating on our individual, mom-and-pop businesses in the state.