Two Major Growth Sectors
Two Major Growth Sectors – Energy and Healthcare
I have said that health care is an industry of necessity. As our population ages, the need for quality, accessible medical care will increase. To that end, revenue growth in health care outpaced other industries in 2011, and the industry experienced a 21 percent increase in job growth between 2001 and 2010. Despite this national success, Mississippi saw a meager two percent increase in heath care jobs during the same time period, and our state consistently ranks at the bottom of physicians-per-capita, with 83 percent of our counties having a physician shortage.
It is an understatement to say that the health care industry has an impact on Mississippi’s economy. The industry in its current state generates $11.9 billion in annual economic impact, provides Mississippi with more than $484 million in annual tax revenues and accounts for seven percent of our gross state product. We also know that in Mississippi, jobs in health care pay 40 percent more than the statewide average.
We should not settle for physician shortages and timid growth. We must expand our investment in this industry. That is why I have proposed several critical pieces of legislation that drive our economy, help ensure access to expanded medical services and facilities and promote a competitive, vigorous market. The most significant piece of legislation is the Mississippi Health Care Industry Zone Act.
Mississippi Health Care Industry Zone Act
House Author: Rep. Smith, HB 1537
This bill expands the health care industry by encouraging health care-related businesses to locate within qualified Health Care Zones. Businesses engaged in the research, development, manufacturing or processing of pharmaceuticals, biologics, biotechnology, medical supplies and medical equipment; diagnostic imaging; and other shared services would be eligible for incentives.
What is a Health Care Zone?
- A Health Care Zone is a geographic area that encompasses a five-mile radius around a certified facility that exists in a county which has a certificate of need for at least 375 acute care hospital beds. The zones are certified by MDA.
- Eligible businesses must make an investment of at least $10 million and create a minimum of 25 new permanent, full-time jobs.
- MDA must certify that the business meets minimum requirements and that the project furthers health care opportunities within the state.
- Certification must be obtained prior to a project’s announcement, construction and hiring.
- Accelerated state income tax depreciation deduction:
- Sales tax exemptions on equipment and materials from the date of certification until three months after start up
- Property tax Fee in Lieu for 10 years at county’s discretion.
- Ad Valorem tax exemption for ten years:
Companies may also qualify for further incentives from MDA, such as:
- Advantage Jobs credit: This program rebates a percentage of payroll to companies who create new jobs. The jobs must meet or exceed the average state wage or average county wage, whichever is lower.
- Jobs Tax Credit: Certain businesses are eligible for credits that reduce income tax liability.
- Infrastructure Assistance: MDA can provide infrastructure assistance to qualified companies.
Ranked as the world’s most attractive spot for oil and gas investment in a 2011 independent report issued by The Frasier Institute, Mississippi can become a serious leader in energy innovation. To realize this potential, we must adopt an “all of the above” energy strategy that creates jobs and yields cost savings that can be reinvested into education and further job creation.
To that end, I have proposed the Energy and Sustainability Act of 2012. To encourage energy innovation in the private sector, the act defines federal loan incentives for certain businesses to make energy efficiency upgrades. Money saved as a result of efficiencies can be reinvested into a business’s workforce and operations, providing a catalyst for even greater energy expansion.
The act also creates the Biomass Center for Excellence to encourage and coordinate biomass research, development and industry among state research institutions, the public sector and private sector stakeholders. Increased collaboration will help maximize renewable energy research and promote Mississippi’s biomass resources globally.
This act also requires the development of a statewide energy plan to forecast energy needs and deficiencies. Mississippi should be serious about implementing cost-saving efficiency measures so we can direct freed resources to other priority areas.
The Energy Sustainability and Development Act of 2012
House Author: Rep. Cockerham, HB 1330
This bill addresses Mississippi’s pressing need to expand its energy economy, develop energy jobs, further energy research and implement statewide energy efficiencies.
• Defines state and federal incentives for certain businesses to make energy-efficiency upgrades.
• Creates the Biomass Center for Excellence to encourage and coordinate biomass research, development and industry among state research institutions, the public sector and private sector stakeholders.
• Requires the adoption of a statewide energy plan to forecast energy needs and deficiencies and to identify and implement cost-saving efficiency measures.