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Regional location stressed in push for new industry

The state’s site consultant on the Nissan automotive plantencouraged a regional approach Friday to develop a super site forindustrial prospects in Southwest Mississippi.

“Working regionally is probably the most important and strongestthing you can do,” Dr. C.R. “Buzz” Canup told economic developmentand community officials from the 10 partnership counties during ameeting at the State Room.

Starting discussions toward development of a super site is amonga number of this year’s goals for the partnership, saidBrookhaven’s Chandler Russ, president of the regional organization.He said the partnership wanted to take an aggressive approachtoward developing a site and expressed appreciation to officialsfor their attendance Friday.

“We can’t do any of it without your help and support,” Russsaid.

In his presentation, Canup talked about a systematic approach tohow a company searches for a location to build. The locationprocess includes pre-planning, macro analysis of possible site,micro analysis, negotiations and final decision and thenimplementation.

Canup stressed the importance of communities being prepared topresent a site when industries come looking. He said industrieshave “must” and “want” criteria when looking at sites, and nothaving a needed service could easily remove a community fromconsideration.

“They’re looking for reasons to eliminate,” Canup said.

Canup also emphasized community togetherness between city,county, chamber, business and other officials.

“When a company comes to town, that’s one of the most positiveimpressions you can make: a community that is working together,”Canup said.

Will Mayo, director of economic development for Entergy, offereda report on southwest Mississippi economic development factors.

Transportation received between an A, because of access toInterstate 55, to an A-minus due to no river access. Labor issuesrated a B to a B-minus.

An industrial site grade was not available because the area doesnot have one, said Mayo, adding that companies do not givecommunities time to find one. The political climate, he said, was aquestion mark and up to the communities involved.

Monticello Mayor Dave Nichols said he supported the regionalpartnership. However, he questioned the population availability fora large industry and why one community should support the effortwhen the site could be located elsewhere.

“That’s what we’re going to have to sell to our people,” Nicholssaid.

Addressing the population availability, Canup encouraged sitedevelopers to look beyond county boundaries and consider reasonablecommuting distances.

“When you’re thinking, think outside the box,” Canup said.

Russ said having a super site of 1,200 to 1,500 acres was notset in stone.

At the least, Russ said, working on the super site could helpcommunities identify sites in their communities that would besuitable for smaller industries. He said the super site effort wasin no way intended to distract from communities’ own economicdevelopment efforts.

Nichols said he was not being pessimistic, but realistic, aboutthe super site discussion.

“Right now, I don’t see things that make it easy to sell to ourpeople,” Nichols said.

In discussing large industry locations in the state earlier,Mayo pointed out that none had been located south of Interstate20.

Robert Ingram, who works with community development with theUniversity of Southern Mississippi, said every other region of thestate had developed a super site or were in the process. Heencouraged the southwest Mississippi area to do the same.

“You’re not going to have anyone to blame but yourselves if youdon’t get it done,” Ingram said.

Lincoln County District 2 Supervisor Bobby J. Watts indicatedthe site planning process should continue. Mentioning Mayo’sassessment, the supervisor indicated that the area has much tooffer a prospective industry.

“I think we need to get busy,” Watts said.