City of Hattiesburg will retain metro status

Pine Belt

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – The U.S. Office of Management and Budget decided to back off on a proposal that would have altered the definition of a “metropolitan statistical area.” In a Facebook post, Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker said the “proposed rule change is a win for Hattiesburg.”

In March, I joined local community leaders and elected officials in voicing our concern over the Office of Management and Budget proposed rule change to double the population requirement to be designated a Metropolitan Statistical Area – specifically proposing to move the minimum population threshold from 50,000 to 100,000.

During my testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee in Washington D.C., it was clear that this potential change was one that raised concerns for policymakers on both sides of the aisle.

The implications for Hattiesburg were far-reaching and harmful. It would have hindered our area’s efforts in economic development, as well as our ability to recruit and retain talent. It would have also created one more obstacle in applying for federal grant opportunities that tie grant eligibility to MSA status.

Today’s report that the OMB is backing off of the proposed rule change is a win for Hattiesburg and 143 other metro areas around the United States. Thanks to the efforts of Senator Wicker, Senator Hyde-Smith, Congressman Palazzo, the Area Development Partnership and a host of other elected officials and organizations around the country, Hattiesburg will remain one of 391 metropolitan statistical areas.

As we move our city forward, we must do everything possible to accelerate our job growth, recruit and retain the incredible talent that our city attracts and keep every funding mechanism in place. OMB backing off this proposed rule change allows us to do just that.

Toby Barker, Mayor of Hattiesburg

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