A large crowd gathered in the Collins Civic Center to hear Representative Michael Guest, keynote speaker for the annual general membership meeting of the Covington County Chamber of Commerce, on Tuesday, February 18, 2020.   Everyone enjoyed a dinner provided by Shady Acres followed by recognition of guests by Chamber President Tommy Morgan.
Speaker Michael Guest, U.S. Congressman representing Mississippi’s Third Congressional District, was introduced by State Representative Noah Sanford.  Congressman Guest spoke about the low unemployment rate, the growth of lower and middle-income jobs, the strength of the stock market, and how Mississippi’s economy has benefited from a strong national economy.  He concentrated on 3 main areas of strength in Mississippi.
First he discussed the value of private businesses such as C-Spire, Sanderson Farms Poultry, and the Nissan and Toyota automobile manufacturing plants, which provide thousands of jobs to Mississippi workers and millions of dollars of revenue flowing through the hands of consumers, investors, and government.  He also told listeners that Amazon plans to build two distributions centers in Mississippi.
Second, he spoke about the benefits of having a strong National Guard presence in the state.  He informed Chamber members that Mississippi Guardsmen provided assistance in locating terrorist Al Baghdadi in Iraq, they are involved in helping protect U.S. airspace over Washington, D.C. and that Camp Shelby provides world-class training to military and National Guardsmen from all over the United States.
Third, he discussed  the military suppliers located in Mississippi such as Raytheon Corporation in Forrest  and Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula.  Raytheon serves as a hub for production and testing S-Band radar equipment, employs more than 800 people and produces radar for U.S. fighter jets, air-defense radar and other electronic warfare technology – some of which will be used by U.S. warships built at Ingall’s Shipyard.  Ingalls builds some of the world’s most modern and sophisticated warships in the world.  It  employs 11,500 employees, is the largest supplier of U.S. Navy surface combatants, and has built nearly 70 percent of the U.S. Navy fleet of warships.
He concluded by saying that, “In the United States, all men and women have the opportunity to work hard and achieve success”, and that we need to continue to strive to preserve our Republic.  The greatest threat to our Republic,  he said, is the growing rise of socialism.
Rep. Noah Sanford in his legislative report updated the crowd on events which have transpired so far in the 2020 legislative session, and said his focus was going to be on legislation to propose more funds to the Dept. of Corrections and for criminal justice reform, specifically legislation to require prisons to separate dangerous inmates from non-dangerous inmates.  He also said legislation has been proposed which would fund pay raises for State Employees and teachers.
Executive Director Marie Shoemake introduced Covington County’s Miss Hospitality for 2019, Larsen Sanford and Little Miss Hospitality Emma Grace Massey.  Larsen Sanford then presented Covington County’s Miss Hospitality for 2020, Laka Till to the members.  Chamber President Tommy Morgan presented closing remarks, thanked the members and guests for their help and participation and closed the meeting.