House Speaker Gunn visits with mayor

Published 11:00 am Tuesday, May 6, 2014

An invitation to tour the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering Research and Development Center was the result of a Monday meeting between Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and Mississippi Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn, R-Clinton.

Gunn was in town for a lunch meeting with Flaggs to review the results of the recent session of the Legislature and discuss other issues that may affect Vicksburg in the future.

“We’re good friends,” Flaggs said after the meeting. “I invited him to have lunch and just discuss the session and other things. I invited him to visit ERDC. He hasn’t been there since he was a boy. The governor and the lieutenant governor have visited ERDC, he should see it, too. The more state officials we get interested in Vicksburg, the better for us.”

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“George is an experienced public servant,” Gunn said. “I’ve been able to observe his talents in the legislature, and I know he has a tremendous heart for Vicksburg and he wants to see it succeed and thrive.”

He said he is a regular visitor to Vicksburg, adding he and his wife enjoy eating at the city’s restaurants. He said his stop in the city while on his “Ideas Tour” before the start of the Legislature “was one of our best stops.”

He said the stop resulted in the renewal of the state’s historic tax credit law, which allows people to receive tax credits for restoring and repairing historic buildings. “That was one of the subjects a lot of people brought up,” he said.

Gunn, whose House district includes Bovina, said his visit to Vicksburg Monday was a way to stay in touch with Flaggs. “I want to make sure I stay in touch with him and help him succeed,” he said. “I want to do everything we can to help the City of Vicksburg and help him.”

Vicksburg, he said, with the National Military Park, historic homes, the Mississippi River and other attractions, has a lot of potential for tourism, but added the state has limited funds to help.

“We always evaluate needs continuously all around the state and try to find out where they can be applied best for a positive return,” he said.

And while the economic picture is looking better with state revenues currently exceeding budget projections, recovery from the recession that hit in 2008 will be slow, “so we have to be careful how we spend money.”

With the session over, Gunn said he and other state officials are working to bring more industry and jobs to the state and are staying in contact with several companies that are interested in Mississippi. “We hope to give them a reason to come here,” he said.

But the economic development effort has slowed in the past few days, he said, in wake of the severe tornadoes that hit the state, particularly in Louisville and Tupelo.

“The tornadoes put another item on the plate, and it basically has been the item to turn our attention to in the short term,” he said.

He said many of the companies the state deals with “pick where they want to go,” and issues like quality of education, quality of life and an educated and reliable work force have a lot of influence on that selection.

“Those are the kinds of questions we get (from companies),” he said. “Wherever I go, I challenge communities to work on those things, because that’s what’s going to bring companies to them.

“Vicksburg has a lot to offer, a good community with good people, I’m so hopeful companies will be attracted to Vicksburg.”


About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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