The onset of the Great Depression, the hard times of the 1930s, wreaked new havoc on the Mississippi economy. However, by its very severity the depression spurred some long-needed economic developments in the state. Federal farm programs initiated during that decade encouraged better soil conservation practices and greater crop diversification. For its part, the state government undertook its most concerted effort to encourage industrial growth. The Balance Agriculture With Industry (BAWI) program of Governor Hugh L. White, enacted in 1936, enabled the state and local governments to issue bonds for the construction of industrial plants to be leased to private industries. In addition, the program provided for five-year tax exemptions for some industries. By 1940 the state had achieved modest industrial growth.
World War II spurred some economic growth in Mississippi. Because of the state’s mild climate, a number of army camps and air force bases were built in Mississippi. The largest of these were Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg and Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi. Ingalls Shipbuilding at Pascagoula helped create a wartime boom on the Gulf Coast. High wartime wages and nearly full employment brought former sharecroppers into the towns. Farm income soared, and when the war ended, most large farmers had surplus funds which could be used for mechanization. "Mississippi" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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