Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson attended the Olive Branch Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon on Wednesday, where he met with local business owners and talked about his “Tackle the Tape” initiative.
Watson said thousands of new businesses opened in Mississippi over the last three years. About 28,000 new businesses opened in 2019, 51,000 in 2020 and 63,000 in 2021 despite pandemic disruptions.
“People look at COVID and how hard it hit Mississippi and the jobs that were lost,” Watson said. “You may wonder how that happened with COVID, but Mississippians are tough, they’re resilient. People thought, ‘I have this dream in my mind, maybe it’s time to go and get it.’”
Olive Branch was the ninth-largest contributor to new businesses in Mississippi last year, according to Watson. He praised the work ethic and determination of Olive Branch citizens, as citizen input has been the focus of his Tackle the Tape initiative.
“Tackle the Tape” has allowed business owners, or aspiring business owners, to contact the Secretary of State office if there are regulations or statutes that are making it difficult for them to open. Watson said the communication has resolved numerous problems throughout the state.
“Governments should be easy to work with, you (citizens) are the boss,” Watson said. “People have been surprised like, wait, you’re actually helping? You’re actually getting to work on this? It’s sad people have that response. It shouldn’t be like that.”
One example Watson explained was a man who purchased a historic building on the Mississippi coast and needed to replace a window. A statute did not allow for the window to be replaced, but due to efforts through “Tackle the Tape”, the man was permitted to replace the window.
Watson said any regulation can be submitted as part of “Tackle the Tape”, all of which will be reviewed for possible change or removal. He said the effort is about helping Mississippians succeed in what they want to do without having to leave the state.
“People always talk about theory, conservative or democrat, whatever,” Watson said. “But when you see something that actually helps people, that helps them get closer to their dreams in business, that’s how it should be. Our team is really focused on that.”
Watson said the “Tackle the Tape” program has been so successful, Watson said he was contacted by the White House in August 2020, wanting to know if elements of it could be implemented by the federal government.
After discussing Tackle the Tape, the White House allowed Watson to speak at a national teleconference to explain Mississippi’s approach towards reducing the regulatory burden on businesses.
“Mississippi is leading the country right now in eliminating regulations,” Watson said. “How cool is that? We’re doing that right here. There’s some good things going on and Olive Branch played a huge role in that. We’re setting the table for success by getting out of the way and we’ve seen growth.”
Reports can be submitted to the Tackle the Tape program on the Mississippi Secretary of State website, www.sos.ms.gov.