• 68°

Chamber keeps eye on future while noting accomplishments

Community officials celebrated past achievements, while alsostressing the need to be prepared for future growth opportunities,Tuesday during the 69th Annual Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber ofCommerce Banquet.

Mayor Bill Godbold said the past year’s achievements, such asthe national guard armory, had been “tremendous.” He said thecommunity was fortunate to have cooperative and dedicatedleadership on the projects, many of which are expected to becompleted in the upcoming year.

District 3 Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson, president-elect ofthe board of supervisors, said the county also had a good year. Hetouted a number of road and bridge projects under way and a goodworking relationship between the city, county and various othergroups.

“It’s no way this county can’t keep growing,” Williamsonsaid.

But to do that, several speakers last night stressed a “pressingneed” for more industrial park land. Essentially, less than 10acres are available in the current park and the community is out ofthe economic development game until more is acquired and developed,speakers said.

John Endicott, outgoing Industrial Development Foundationchairman, said 35 percent of all wages in the county are paidthrough industrial park businesses. Those business, he said, havean over $247 million yearly impact on the local economy.

To further economic development efforts, six sites are underconsideration as possible new industrial parks.

“We hope in the coming year to be narrowing to a selection onthat,” Endicott said.

Featured speaker and former Mississippi Development AuthorityExecutive Director Jimmy Heidel, of Vicksburg, drew a parallelbetween his community in the late 1980s and early 1990s andBrookhaven now. Vicksburg lost out to Brookhaven in landing theWal-Mart Distribution Center because there was no available land inthe River City for the project.

“It was devastating to lose Wal-Mart but we did because you wereprepared,” Heidel told local leaders last night.

Following that loss, against some opposition, Vicksburg economicdevelopment officials pursued a new industrial park, Heidel said.This year, that vision will pay off with over 600 new jobs fromNissan suppliers and others locating in the new park.

Heidel encouraged Brookhaven and Lincoln County officials topursue and develop a new park so it can be prepared for futureopportunities.

Also during the banquet, Jimminette Phillips was honored withthe chamber’s Soap Box Award.

The special award recognizes a citizen who goes above and beyondthe call of duty to promote Brookhaven and Lincoln County. Phillipswas commended for her efforts with the chamber’s communityappearance committee, Keep Lincoln County Beautiful and theBrookhaven Trust, of which she is president this year.

In annual banquet activities, United Way campaign chairmanTillmon Bishop announced the effort so far has raised $204,504 tosurpass this year’s goal of $194,100. Continuing the industryimportance theme, he said 80 percent of the contributions came fromthe manufacturing sector of the community.

Nancy Myers Butler received the Educator of the Year Award. Sheis a second grade teacher at Loyd Star Attendance Center and hasalso taught in the Brookhaven school system.

Robert and Anna Robinson, of Anna’s Farm, received the FarmFamily of the Year Award. The Robinsons raise cattle and growcommercial vegetables on their 39-acre farm.

Chad Moore was given the annual 4-H scholarship. Moore is asenior at Brookhaven High School.

Chamber Ambassador of the Year honors went to Sydney Wilson.Ambassadors represent the chamber at ribbon cuttings and otherevents throughout the year.

McLane Southern was chosen at the Industry of the Year. Thecompany’s Brookhaven operation serves 1,900 customers in afive-state area and last year reported over $900 million insales.