Business leaders say Mississippi flag will stunt economic growth - - Jackson, MS

Business leaders say Mississippi flag will stunt economic growth

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Governor Phil Bryant announced Thursday he will not call a special session to address the state flag controversy. Some in the business community think Mississippi's pocketbook will suffer for keeping the flag flying.

"It doesn't show us as progressive," said telecommunications pioneer and former U.S. Ambassador to Portugal John Palmer. "People want to go where it's progressive. It shows us as backward."

Palmer is worried the flag is stunting the state's business growth. He recalled business partners from out of state arriving at a hotel with this flying out front.

"It was the state flag but all they could see was the confederate flag and scared them," noted Palmer. "They said why are we staying here and I said, you know that is probably as good an example as any."

Blake Wilson is the President and CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council. He said it's tough to answer whether the state loses economic development because of the flag.

"Nobody decides we'll bring a plant here to Mississippi and they look out the window and say wait a minute what's that?," Wilson described.

Wilson said those issues are usually vetted before the conversations move forward. But he made this point.

"If you're trying to market a product and you have a brand that makes 37-38% of your potential public uncomfortable," said Wilson. "Would you market that brand?"

For others, flags are their business.

"We have just increased our orders so we can take care of the demand," explained Brenda McIntyre at A Complete Flag Source.

McIntyre said they'll keep selling the flag, regardless of what happens officially.

John Palmer is concerned the high tech industry, in particular, won't have a reason to set up shop in Mississippi if things don't change.

"If that flag stays on, we're going to take a huge step backwards," Palmer added.

The Mississippi Economic Council led the charge for a flag change in 2001. While its position is the same,Blake Wilson thinks it will be best to have a more grassroots movements this go-around. They'll keep selling the flag at businesses like this--no matter what happens.

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