Wicker Promotes Mississippi Industry

National Security and Economic Development Go Hand-In-Hand

April 1, 2024

I frequently meet with business and national defense leaders all over Mississippi. These forward-thinking visionaries are working to make the most of our state’s vast resources. Last week, I visited a few of these groups along the coast. We discussed ways Congress can support them as they attract job creators, researchers, and tradesmen to our communities.


America Runs On Small Business


I spent time with the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission, a group working to increase commerce on the Mississippi Coast. The commissioners like to say they see opportunity in all directions: land, air, and sea. They draw clients who can take advantage of the area’s rail lines, airport, and harbor. To bring even more activity, they are enhancing these assets. In the past few years, I worked with the commission to secure funding for rail improvements to reduce congestion on shipping lines at the port.


We also discussed small businesses, the kind of companies the commission often brings to Hancock County. I identified ways Congress can support these organizations, which make up the vast majority of American businesses.


Entrepreneurs take a bold risk, and America should have their backs. One way the federal government can help job creators is to slash regulations that complicate their work. During the Trump administration, we again made a concerted effort to cut red tape. The logic was simple. When owners spend less on compliance lawyers, they can invest more in their enterprise.


Lawmakers can also lend small businesses a hand by lowering their tax burden, something Congress and the White House did in 2017. When these entrepreneurs keep more of their hard-earned money, they are able to hire more employees.


After our meeting, we celebrated a tangible example of the Port and Harbor Commission’s recruitment work with a stop at Point Eight Power. The manufacturer recently opened a plant in Hancock County and is recruiting workers to produce parts for auto, marine, and power systems.


Mississippi Works to Keep America Safe


I also visited Skydweller and Ingalls. These Mississippi sites test aircraft and build ships, respectively, and they reflect the role our state plays in America’s defense.


These businesses illustrate the fact that national security and economic development go hand-in-hand. They create jobs for thousands of Mississippians with all kinds of skills. Some, like Ingalls, channel the talents of craftsmen, experts in welding and construction. Others, like Skydweller, provide opportunities for engineers and researchers to build cutting-edge technology.


At Skydweller, executives unveiled a surveillance aircraft with a wingspan nearly the size of a football field. Technicians are testing this invention on the grounds of the Stennis airport. The aircraft is equipped with solar panels, which allow it to replenish its own power and stay aloft for months.


The company chose Mississippi for its prime location on the Gulf Coast and its defense research ecosystem. Their decision is a sign of Mississippi’s growing aerospace industry, as more innovators bring engineering jobs and research investment to the state.


In Congress, I am working to connect these companies with federal resources. I serve as the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. In that role, I am promoting increased defense investment, which would simultaneously tap into the potential of Mississippi’s defense workforce and deter our enemies from threatening us.


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