MEC Named America’s #1 State Chamber of Commerce

Successes in pandemic recovery, legislative influence elevated Mississippi’s Voice of Business

 

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Economic Council (MEC) has been honored as the State Chamber of the
Year for 2022 by the National Association of State Chambers (NASC). Each year NASC honors a state
chamber that has distinguished itself by providing exceptional services and outstanding results for its
members.
“As the state chamber, MEC connects businesses from all regions of Mississippi with a shared goal of
growing our state’s economic competitiveness,” said Scott Waller, president and CEO of MEC. “The
tremendous support of members from all business sectors is the driving force for initiating and effectively
advocating proactive public policy, helping create opportunities for all Mississippians.”

MEC – the State Chamber of Commerce – has been the voice of Mississippi business since 1949, dealing
with broad issues that relate to all Mississippi businesses. MEC carries out its mission statement “to be the
leading force for business in Mississippi” by using factual, data-driven research to promote collaboration
between top private and public sector leaders and develop feasible solutions that will grow the state’s
economy.

In the fall of 2021, MEC completed 51 small-group discussions in 18 regions of the state, gathering
qualitative data on workforce, education, talent retention and attraction, economic development, and
business climate. The information from these facilitated sessions, along with essential quantitative data, led
to the development of MEC’s “Securing Mississippi’s Future: Vision for Economic Growth” report, released
in early 2022. This report provides a clear, definitive picture of the public policy needed to advance the
interests of MEC members and create a more prosperous future for all Mississippians.

The recommendations in the report align with key legislative initiatives, several of which were acted on
during the 2022 session. Waller said a tremendous partnership among state leaders, key agencies, and
other business groups led to transformative public policy this past year.

“Working with Governor Tate Reeves, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn
and members of the legislature, we are making great strides in addressing the goals outlined in the
‘Securing Mississippi’s Future’ report,” Waller said. “By bringing public and private sector leaders together
to focus on workforce training, economic development, and improving Mississippi’s competitiveness, our
state benefits for years to come.”

Key Public Policy Achievements
• The Comprehensive Career and Technical Education Reform Act is a transformational approach to
improving career pathways. It aligns CTE courses at the high school and community college levels,
requiring a return-on-investment analysis. It also creates career readiness assessments.
• The Strategically Accelerating the Recruitment and Retention of Teachers (START) Act of 2022 is a
$250 million annual investment for teachers, increasing their salaries effective for the 2022-2023
school year, surpassing the regional and national averages.
• The Mississippi Flexible Tax Incentive Act is a performance-based incentive program to attract
businesses to Mississippi, allowing flexibility in the use of incentives.
• More than $500 million in new funding was appropriated for state and local infrastructure projects.

Organizational Development
• MEC developed its first formal strategic plan in over 20 years. This three-to-five-year plan will
solidify MEC as the “Voice of Business” in Mississippi.
• Utilizing its foundations, the Public Education Forum of Mississippi and the M.B. Swayze
Foundation, MEC received $1.2 million in grants to support the organization’s efforts.
• The organization created a reserve fund, moving toward a goal of three months of core operating
expenses.
• MEC provided professional development opportunities for staff, including two members of the MEC
staff who earned the industry-recognized IOM designation.

“The Mississippi Economic Council’s value to its members is evident through the results of meaningful
public policy,” said MEC 2022-2023 Chair Martin Williams, vice president and CFO of Coca-Cola Bottling of
Corinth & Tupelo. “However, this award isn’t based on a single accomplishment. It highlights best practices
among state chambers, and I am proud of the work accomplished by MEC and the support of our members
throughout Mississippi.”

“Chambers of Commerce play a vital role in helping to advance their state’s economy by advocating for
business opportunity and growth for their private sector employers,” said Heather Briccetti Mulligan,
President and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, and Chair of NASC. “Over the past year, the
Mississippi Economic Council has continued NASC’s mission of demonstrating best practices to achieve
these goals. Being named the top state chamber is a well-deserved top honor for MEC and its team.”
Building on these examples, along with its steadfast work that changed the Mississippi flag and removed a
symbol of hatred and prejudice, MEC’s momentum is laying the groundwork for the transformational
change necessary to secure Mississippi’s future.

The celebration of the State Chamber of the Year award will kick off at MEC’s annual Hobnob Mississippi on
Thursday, October 27.

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