THE PINEY WOODS 183 Conner served two terms as head of the body. Defeated in 1923 and 1927 in gubernatorial elections, Conner finally won election in 1931 over fellow Piney Woodsmen Hugh White and Paul B. Johnson, Sr. Taking office in the early years of the Great Depression, Conner also inherited problems created by his predecessor Theodore G. Bilbo. Creating a balanced budget and regaining accreditation for Mississippi’s institutions of higher learning were two of his top priorities. Conner’s options to rectify the budget deficit were limited by the economic downturn of the Great Depression. The state auditor reported just $1,326 in the State Treasury on January 1, 1932. One solution was to trim the state budget by eliminating services and to reduce the number of state workers, but this solution did not fully address the problem. Conner pressured the legislature to enact a retail sales tax to assist in balancing the state budget. After an extended battle, the legislature produced an Emergency Revenue Act in his first year in office, a 2 percent state sales tax that went into effect May 1, 1932. This frugal approach to state government worked, and over the next four years, Conner was able to balance the budget. The second priority was to reestablish accreditation for the state’s major colleges and universities. Due to the actions of former governor Bilbo, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in 1930 revoked the accreditation of the University of Mississippi, Mississippi A&M, Mississippi State College for Women, and the State Teachers College at Hattiesburg. One of the ousted college presidents, Joseph Cook of the State Teachers College, ran for and was elected to office as a state senator from Lowndes County in 1932. Conner and Cook worked together to push through a bill that they hoped would regain accreditation for the state’s colleges and universities. The new law consolidated the three separate boards of trustees into one ten-member board, which would have oversight of all of the state’s colleges and universities. It also provided that each college president prepare a detailed budget. The executive secretary of the board of trustees would then forward the budget to the state legislature, which would make one appropriation for the entire system. Presidents gained the authority to nominate faculty and staff, while employees of the colleges and universities received assurance that political matters would not enter into reappointment decisions. The law passed in 1932, and in December 1932 SACS restored provisional accreditation to the four institutions. By 1934, SACS restored full accreditation to all schools. Overall, when Conner’s term in office ended in 1936, he left the state government on solid footing for his successor. In 1935, two Piney Woods natives vied for the office of governor. The winner was Hugh L. White, who promised to work toward Balancing Agriculture with Industry (BAWI). Hugh White spent the majority of his early life as partner in a sawmill firm and was well acquainted with the economic circumstances facing the Piney Woods. In 1929, White, in his capacity as mayor of Columbia, began work to diversify the local economy. The town attracted a canning factory and a textile mill, but White realized that to succeed Columbia needed to attract a major employer. At the same time, Reliance Manufacturing Company, a textile firm producing men’s shirts and pajamas, was seeking a site for a new plant. White approached Reliance, offering $85,000 for the construction of a plant building in return for a guarantee from the company that it would employ at least 300 workers and agree to spend $1 million in wages over the next decade. Instead of the normal business model of a few wealthy businessmen funding the plant, ordinary citizens signed promissory notes so the city could obtain a loan to construct the building. The unconventional plan worked, and in July 1932 the plant opened with 300 workers, most of whom were women. Farm families benefited from Reliance Manufacturing Company because they could supplement the males’farm income with the women’s wages from labor. Despite the harsh financial conditions of the Great Depression, the plant survived. In 1935, emboldened by his success in Columbia, Hugh White ran for governor, and at the heart of his agenda was the BAWI plan: Balance Agriculture with Industry. Elected the forty-fifth governor of the state, White served from 1936 through 1940 and worked to implement the Columbia plan across the state. The first step in the plan was to pass the Mississippi Industrial Act to grant local and county governments the legal right to finance land purchases and plant construction via bond elections. Out of 3,800 firms that inquired into the BAWI program, the Industrial Commission selected twenty-one applicants. Twelve established plants, with only two being located in the Pine Belt, Ellisville Hosiery Mills and Hattiesburg Hosiery Mills. Overall, BAWI was a success; the plan brought industry into the state during a harsh economic climate. Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula was one of the World War II represents a watershed event in Mississippi history. Much like the Civil War, the conflict influenced the lives of virtually every Mississippian.