We always want the news to be great when talking about our home Tupelo and North Mississippi. Earlier this week, an article appeared in the New York Times outlining its interpretation of national political elections on local economies. The article contained misleading information about Tupelo; consequently, misrepresenting our current economic reality. This response is not to justify or take a political position, but to the data presented in the article.
The article’s snapshot of Lee County’s economy from 1990—2007 stops short of providing any updated information on Lee County’s current economy. Today, our economy is driven by industry diversification—a response to the outsourcing of the furniture industry that occurred in the early 2000s.
•Lee County’s median household income has increased by 52% from $36,165 in 2000 to $55,101 in 2016. This compares to a national 32% increase in median household income during the same period of time.
•Since 2007, Lee County has witnessed over $1B in capital investment and the creation of over 7,500 manufacturing jobs from industries including MTD Products, Cooper Tire, General Atomics, Grammer, and others. The location of Toyota in Blue Springs created an additional $1.2B in capital investment and 1,500 jobs.
•In the last 36 months alone, local furniture industries including HM Richards, Southern Motion, United Furniture, Ashley Furniture, and more have announced $51M in capital investment and created 1,400 new jobs.
•The Tupelo micropolitan area has been recognized as a top ten micropolitan (out of 575) in the United States for economic activity eight times since 2007.
•Unemployment in Lee County is at its second-lowest rate in 27 years at 3.9% in 2017.
Sources: U.S. Census, Jobs EQ, Site Selection Magazine
It’s hard to guess what motivated the writers and the Brookings Institute to highlight our economy in support of their position on tariffs. We were never contacted about the dated statistics or asked about our current economic circumstances.
I am very grateful our community has adapted, grown, and overcome the prior economic circumstances. Tupelo remains vibrant in its economy and spirit.
If you have any questions about the information presented in the article or about the statistics I have provided you, please contact me. I will be happy to discuss the success of our community with you.
David P. Rumbarger, JrPresident/CEOCommunity Development Foundation