Campaigning in the January 11 election for Transportation Commissioner of Mississippi's Northern District, one of Starkville's own says he is uniquely qualified for the position.
Mike Tagert, President of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Development Council promotes all modes of transportation – highways, rivers, rail, and our airports - for the purpose of economic development and job creation.
"I have extensive experience in promoting local communities and their resources while assisting with special transportation and multi-modal solutions," he said.
Tagert, also serves as a member of the Trade and Transportation Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He recently led the effort to have the Tenn-Tom Waterway designated as a Marine Highway (M-65) Corridor, which runs parallel to Interstate-65, making the Tenn-Tom one of the few marine highways in the nation.
Tagert, ealier this year, signed an international agreement with the Panama Canal Authority to promote international trade and cooperation between the two regions, making the Tenn-Tom unique among other inland transportation organizations.
"Transportation drives economic development more than any other factor," Tagert said.
"You cannot attract a company to a local site unless you can demonstrate access to regional and global transportation."
And while highways and interstates are the primary means of transportation, he added, waterborne and short-line railroad transportation also play important roles now and will even more so in the future as our freight capacity needs continue to increase. The promotion of these alternative modes can assist with congestion, emissions, and safety in the transport of our raw materials and finished products.
"With our increasing capacity needs, we can provide additional transport of our raw materials and Mississippi products via increased usage of our rivers and short-line railroads, when feasible to do so."
In the last 10 years the Tenn- Tom Region has seen tremendous development and private investment, as well as along the Mississippi River, Tagert reported.
"We've seen expansions of businesses dependent on special transportation with steel fabrication companies locating throughout the region," he said. "Just as important, our hard working people and our enviable business climate makes North Mississippi a great place to invest."
If elected, Tagert's priorities include road and bridge safety, upgrading the Northern District's roads, while also seeing the realization of the Interstate-22 corridor and the efficient completion of current work on city, county, and state roads.
"We still have some work to do there, and the fulfillment of our committments is certainly a priority," he said.
The Mississippi Transportation Commission consists of three Commissioners, Dick Hall of the Central District and Wayne Brown of the Southern District, and the vacant seat set for the special election. The three Commissioners are charged with overseeing operation and safety of all transportation modes including roads, rail lines, public transit, and ports and aeronautics.
"Transportation Commissioner is a great fit to what I've been doing - just at a much more comprehensive level," said Tagert.
Tagert's transportation related experience also includes service as Vice President of the Coalition of Alabama Waterway Associations as an appointee to the Alabama Intermodal Infrastructure Advisory Board.
His local civic involvement includes participation with the Red Cross and the Starkville Area Arts Council.
He is a graduate of Millsaps College and Mississippi State University with master degrees in science and public policy administration. He is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Tagert and his wife, Mary Love, have two children. They are members of the First United Methodist Church. The election is set for January 11, 2011.