June 18, 2014 10:50:00 AM
Senate choice will have powerful effect on local economies
The Republican Runoff for Senate on June 24 will play a major role in the future of our local economy.
There is a big difference between the two candidates. Sen. Thad Cochran has protected Mississippi's interests every day he's been in Washington. Chris McDaniel is a trial lawyer whose campaign has been financed over 90% by interests with no ties to Mississippi.
For Sen. Cochran, his role on the powerful Appropriations Committee will support further economic development in Mississippi. He understands the important role MSU plays in economic development and advancement for our entire state.
The goals of McDaniel and the Tea Party are not what are at issue. I've made modest donations to the Tea Party on a regular basis over the last four years. I understand their frustrations. But why would we Mississippians want to throw out what little influence we have in the federal government for someone who would have no influence for many years?
For Starkville, this election can ensure our continued growth and prosperity or send us a deep hurt. Consider what Sen. Cochran means to us now and imagine what occurs if we replace him in Washington.
MSU works closely with Sen. Cochran's office to obtain funds for research and development to support economic development in defense, aerospace and energy. I am told that $50 million annually comes to MSU as a result of the influence of Sen. Cochran. Conservative estimates reveal that up to 700 jobs will be lost at MSU alone without his influence and power in Washington. These 700 pay taxes, buy and build houses, pay rent and support our local businesses.
Beyond MSU, the jobs picture with Sen. Cochran will likely continue to grow. Several major businesses in the area such as AIRBUS Helicopters, Stark Aerospace, Aurora Flight Sciences and Camgian Microsystems are heavily supported by Congress to provide cutting edge technology for our armed forces. Without Sen. Cochran, these businesses will definitely lose support.
Workforce Development at EMCC is vital to our continued growth and prosperity. Consultants have told us our efforts to build a steady stream of workers to support new industry need strengthening. Without Sen. Cochran, additional funds and infrastructure to support training could disappear.
The Golden Triangle Regional Airport has made over $30 million in improvements, such as terminal renovations, runway extension and resurfacing, air traffic control tower and parking ramps. These investments are absolutely essential for the Golden Triangle to recruit and retain business and provide vital support to the Columbus Air Force Base. Sen. Cochran provided $20 million for these improvements in excess of the allocation formula.
Here in Starkville we are finally getting a much needed convention center. The mill project is underway in great part due to the efforts of Sen. Cochran. Without the senator's influence, the National Park Service was on track to delay to the point that the developer would have been forced to abandon the project. This project is going to prove beneficial to Starkville for many years to come and much of all of it is due to Sen. Cochran's help.
There is a very real possibility that if the Republicans take control of the senate with the mid-term election, Sen. Cochran is in line to become chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful posts in our government.
We can re-elect, Sen. Cochran, a Mississippian who has heaped benefits on our state for decades, and potentially will become one of the most powerful men in our government. Or we can throw away our votes to elect a freshman senator who will be powerless to help our state and region for many years.
Stuart P. Vance