September 25, 2011 1:02:00 AM
If being state treasurer were like being a investigative reporter, Lynn Fitch would be a Pulitzer Prize winner.
Fitch has worked in the state capitol in various capacities for close to 25 years. She's built relationships with senators and state representatives, many of whom are still in office.
So she has the sources -- or connections -- and knows the ropes of Jackson.
Fitch was tapped by Gov. Haley Barbour in 2009 to serve as executive director of the Mississippi State Personnel Board, where she is responsible for directing more than 32,000 state employees.
As counsel for the state Legislature and special assistant attorney general, she's developed a depth of knowledge of the legislative process.
To Fitch, Republican candidate for state treasurer, the transition would be seamless.
"Being the director of an agency, you're very engaged with the legislature and the legislative budget office," Fitch said. "People in legislature know my work ethic."
Fitch said her relationships in Jackson will help make an immediate impact in attracting businesses to the state and growing current Mississippi-based businesses. Continuity in state government gives prospective companies confidence to locate to the state.
"When you have a full team that's ready to help, understands legislative processes and understands what's at hand, that's going to be very attractive to companies," Fitch said. "When that team understands growth factors, investments and education, then you have confidence and a trust level that makes you willing to locate here. I'm prepared to go in with the governor and others involved and do that."
The treasurer serves on 20 different boards and commissions that approve bond funding and infrastructure spending in the state.
Fitch, who holds a law degree from the University of Mississippi, has spent much of her career as a bond attorney, both in the private sector and for the state. As a bond attorney, she's focused on general and municipal bonds and corporate financing, as well as working for the Mississippi Business Finance Corporation and Mississippi Department of Economic Development.
Fitch's opponent in the November general election, Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran, has a deeper history of spearheading economic development at city and county level. However, Fitch believes her extensive history in bonds will help small businesses make a resurgence and encourage large corporations set up shop in Mississippi.
"As a bond lawyer in private practice, I've been fortunate to work with large and small corporations to assist them in financial processes to grow," Fitch said. "I've represented the state in bond issues. I understand the business application in the private sector and how that can apply to the state. It gives me a very comprehensive knowledge base of how those areas mesh together."
Fitch is a supporter of MPACT, Mississippi's prepaid college tuition program. She's keen to develop a stronger, more skilled workforce to help business grow.
"Economic development is a layered process," Fitch said, "but we have to get our workforce turned up for the growth of jobs we want. If you're a project and company coming in the state of Mississippi, you want a skilled workforce."
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