This August, I traveled all over the state while Congress was out of session for a month-long state work period. I visited military bases, civic groups, and local businesses, talking with Mississippians over folding tables and plates of barbeque. I always look forward to August, because these events and meetings allow me to share the Senate’s work and hear directly from Mississippians about their thoughts and questions.
National Security Creates Jobs
The very first item on my itinerary was a visit to the 172nd Airlift Wing in Jackson. The week before, I led Republicans in our efforts to pass the Senate’s annual national defense legislation. This stop with the Mississippi Air National Guard was my first chance to spend time with the service members whose work we supported in the bill. These men and women are on the front line of our efforts to keep peace in our increasingly dangerous world.
Fortunately, many businesses in Mississippi are also focused on doing just that. Mississippi has developed a strong reputation for our defense manufacturing capabilities, and I was able to visit several sites. At Tenax Aerospace in Ridgeland, I spoke with company leaders about ways they help equip our military with special mission aircraft. And I celebrated with the staff at Airbus Helicopters as they commemorated their 20th year of operation in Columbus. These and other defense companies employ thousands of Mississippians and remind us that national security and economic development can go hand-in-hand.
Local and Business Leaders Spur Economic Development
These national defense leaders are not the only ones noticing what Mississippi has to offer. Entrepreneurs, local government leaders, and manufacturers are tapping into our state’s vast potential. I joined groundbreakings in Madison County and Hattiesburg for new projects that will boost economic growth. Agriculture producers, growers, and I discussed priorities for the upcoming Farm Bill. In a meeting with the Mississippi Association of Realtors, we considered ways to help more Americans achieve home ownership. Throughout the month, I visited with civic, economic development, and agricultural organizations across the Gulf Coast, the Pine Belt, the Delta, Northwest Mississippi, and in the Golden Triangle.
Thinking Big for Mississippi
I wish every Mississippian could witness the amazing work I saw happening across our state. At Accelerate Mississippi, I spoke with creative thinkers working to make our workforce a leader in the 21st century. We highlighted Ingalls Shipyards. They are partnering with local schools to install state-of-the-art welding training for high school students, equipping them with marketable skills they can use after graduation. Along the Tenn-Tom Waterway, I talked with business leaders as we shared ideas to make the most of the route’s resources. Educators at Tougaloo College told me about their participation in an Air Force research program studying autonomous weapons systems. I also met with leaders of the Barksdale Reading Institute Legacy Project, which has been very successful in raising the reading scores of Mississippians from every background.
Many of these developments were possible because leaders at the local, state, and federal levels worked together. As the Senate returns to Washington this month, I will continue partnering with innovators in Mississippi to support the great work I witnessed all August long.