Reeves: Well, the answer is yes. In Mississippi, we’ve got several initiatives that we are undertaking. Our labor pool for the future is going to come from those who are currently working, but working in lower-skill positions.
So training and retraining those individuals to take the jobs in the more advanced manufacturing space, that’s one area where we’re going to see employment growth.
The second area is going to come from those individuals that are currently not in the work force. One of the challenges we have is we’ve got a work force participation rate that is too low, and we’ve got to get some of those individuals that are not currently in the work force into the work force.
And then finally, when you create a great economic environment and there are great jobs available, people are going to move into your state. From 2013 to 2019, I’m sad to say, in every one of those six years, we actually had population declines in Mississippi.
We have since turned that around — 2020 was the first year in the last eight years that we’ve seen population growth.
I think that’s critically important because I want to grow [gross domestic product] to 4 to 5 percent a year over the next four to five years. And to do that, we need 1 or 2 percent population growth. So yes, I think population growth, population movement from other parts of the country into the Southeast, is going to help tremendously.
Is it also a concern in Alabama? Will the state try to interest people from around the country to come bring their family and live there?
Ivey: We’ll go after them and invite them to come work here. They’ll have to decide about bringing a family.