- Associated Press - Sunday, May 22, 2016

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - It’s not clear how many furniture makers use Mississippi’s $2,000-a-job tax credit, but they have it for 2½ more years.

Legislators renewed the credit for each new cut-and-sew job - work cutting and sewing fabric and leather upholstery - until Jan. 1, 2019. There was no opposition.

Neither the state Department of Revenue nor the Mississippi Development Authority was able to provide information on the number of companies using the tax credit, The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (https://bit.ly/1WanAZV) reported.

“Has it been used like it should have been? Probably not,” said Bill Martin, director of the Franklin Furniture Institute at Mississippi State University.

He said paperwork is probably the main reason for passing on the credit.

The state’s furniture industry is primarily in the northeast.

Ken Pruett was president of the now-defunct Mississippi Furniture Association when the credit was first enacted in 2010. He says the industry employed about 20,000 people and the goal was to add 10,000 jobs.

Martin said the industry still employs about 20,000 people, including about 1,400 jobs added since July 2014. Fifteen companies have announced expansions in that time, he said.

“The problem the industry is facing right now is that it is growing so fast it is having problems finding employees,” Martin said.

He said the new focus will be on workforce training within the community college system for jobs in the furniture industry.

The average salary in the industry is $31,000 per year.

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com

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