JACKSON — Mississippi’s governor has formed a commission of private-sector business leaders to make recommendations on how the state can economically recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Republican Gov. Tate Reeves announced the creation of the Governor’s Commission for Economic Recovery, also called Restart Mississippi, on Tuesday.
The 17-member task force is chaired by Joe Sanderson, CEO of the poultry company Sanderson Farms, and includes the commissioner of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, the chairman of the State Board of Education, CEOs of banking and investment firms and leaders of technology, energy and health care companies, among others, according to the Restart Mississippi website.
About half of the task force members were connected to Reeves’ campaign or have other ties to the governor, the Clarion Ledger reported Wednesday.
Sanderson previously served as vice chairman of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s Hurricane Katrina economic recovery commission, and along with at least six other members on the new task force, served on Reeves’ campaign finance committee last year.
Reeves was asked during a news conference Friday why the task force does not include any representatives of workers. He said: “We don’t need union bosses to tell us how to take care of our people. We never have and we never will in Mississippi.”
Reeves did not say when or how the group would meet or provide further details on its operations.
“They are simply going to make recommendations, and then we will make decisions based upon what we believe is in the best interest of Mississippi’s citizens,” Reeves said.
The task force will not be authorized to spend any federal funds, he added
Mississippi processed more than 129,500 unemployment claims between March 14 and April 11, according to numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Employment and Training Administration. Reeves has said the usual number is no more than 1,000 a week.
On Friday, Reeves extended his statewide stay-at-home order by one week to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. He said he wants to reopen the state’s economy when it is safe, but did not give a timeline for when that might happen.