In April, we launched the first stage of NextGen Mississippi, our new reporting project focused on young Mississippians. We published a survey asking people of all experiences to tell us about the internal question many Mississippians ask themselves: “Should I stay in Mississippi, or should I leave?” This survey has already garnered more than 600 responses from a wide range of ages, occupations, locations and perspectives.

Scroll to view some select responses, or click a question below to skip ahead.

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Do you believe that the city of Jackson must thrive for Mississippi to thrive? Please explain your answer either way.

“Yes. It’s the heart of the state. And it’s doing an awful job of it. Every time I think that Jackson is about to take a step forward, something falls through and it takes three steps backwards. We will never grow if the status quo is acceptable.”

“Yes, but too much of the power center and money in Jackson has shifted to the suburbs (e.g. Cspire in Ridgeland, Trustmark Park/Bass Pro in Pearl) and the downtown area has been neglected (no grocery stores, gas stations, parking). The momentum is pulling away from Jackson too fiercely to see a shift back in my lifetime.”

“Absolutely. If your capital city is a disaster how can you expect other cities in your state to thrive and be successful. You can’t even get your pinnacle city structured and working properly. There is no decent leadership model in the main place for other cities to borrow ideas from.”

“Yes, Jackson is our capital and it’s a representation of our state. It must be successful and have lower crime in order for Mississippi to grow it’s population, keep people here, and progress this state.”

“I don’t think it “must”, but it certainly should. We ought to be proud of Jackson when visiting. We ought to take pride in our capital city. It’s a great place to start this work and would motivate many other communities.”

“Not necessarily. Our smalls towns have a ton of unique charm that brings in tourism. But in most states, when the big cities offer opportunities, people will move, and putting down roots will make the smaller communities grow too. It’s a domino effect, and having one nice city benefits the whole state.”

How important to you is the city of Jackson’s success?

“Very. I have found ways to love it and see the endless potential it has, but it is miserable to live in.”

“Less every day.”

“Jackson, as the state capitol, should be successful if Mississippi is to be successful, but the rest of the state shouldn’t have to wait on Jackson to improve before they can improve themselves.”

“Very, I hope to see Jackson become the city I know it can be. It is my hometown and I feel bad for leaving it, but I know the state government will do everything in their power to crush Jackson and I do not want to be apart of that environment.”

“Yes because why would the capital of a city not be the biggest, best with extreme resources entertainment opportunities etc”

“Personally, as former resident of Petal, it’s not the top priority; but as the largest metropolitan center in the state, the state’s Blackest urban area, and a major hub of culture and politics, it’s success is essential for us all moving forward.”

What do you desire or need more of in Jackson? In Mississippi?

“More of an investment in the city proper — not Madison or Rankin — to transform the city into a vibrant, bustling representation of Mississippi’s growth and future.”

“Jackson needs a serious PR campaign, and probably more government funding for social programs, and maybe some tax breaks for REAL small businesses and start-ups.”

“We need to encourage businesses to come in and provide incentives, not reasons for them not with out-dated regulations and new, religiously motivated bans that prevent the state from moving forward.”

“In Jackson, physical infrastructure has to be vastly improved. In Mississippi, I would love to see more rehabilitated downtown areas, in both urban and rural areas. In Jackson, it’s disappointing that Farish Street is so empty. In the rest of Mississippi, it’s disappointing that many historic downtowns in small towns are vacant. I am heartened by the efforts of communities like Water Valley and Laurel.”

“Jackson needs infrastructure improvements and better educational opportunities possibly more than any city in America. The elementary schools are decent, but JPS middle schools are consistently underperforming, which is driving young families out of the city in droves. The roads and water system are a complete joke. Mississippi just needs competent leadership – folks who are more interested in moving the state forward by any means possible rather than thumbing their nose at no-brainer solutions to problems that have existed for a decade or more in order to appease rural voters in DeSoto and Harrison Counties.”

Do you believe the city of Jackson’s leadership has done enough to attract or retain young people in Mississippi?

“No, but they need funding.”

“No. While I acknowledge there are more pressing issues such as water and wastewater infrastructure, I believe city governments can walk and chew gum at the same time. If there’s been a campaign to attract youth since I’ve left, i have not seen it.”

“Jackson is trying, but it can only do as much as the state will support.”

“No. Look at southern cities like Little Rock, Huntsville, Birmingham, Atlanta, Knoxville, Memphis, etc. All are doing tremendously well in proving more jobs opportunities, affordable housing, and access to great amenities in walking distance of neighborhoods like restaurants, entertainment, parks, etc.”

“No, the majority of my friends from college have taken the path I have taken. We tried to work in MS and eventually left for better opportunities.”

“I think they’re trying, I don’t think it’s been enough. I know there are a lot of obstacles I don’t understand. But I want them to do more.”

What problems do city of Jackson leaders need to address for a better future?

“The basic needs of its citizens. Water, roads, culture, progress.”

“Infrastructure—why would businesses invest when they can’t trust their water is drinkable, their customers can easily get to their establishments on decent roads, have safe parking, can trust the JPD, etc.”

“Infrastructure and safety. The implementation of funding and programs for both road projects (to be done right so they don’t have to happen again and again) and police training/restructuring funding/developing community programs to reduce the crime rate are all things that should have started years ago.”

“Everything. Water and roads to start.”

“We have to focus on improving roads and water systems in all neighborhoods and not just the affluent ones. Our Jackson Public School system has got to improve. How can children be expected to learn and thrive if the schools don’t have decent bathrooms or equipped classrooms?”


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