Area receives funds for geographic map service

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 6, 2003

Lincoln County is among 10 area counties that stand to benefitfrom a $50,000 Rural Business Opportunity grant to further developa Geographic Information System for southwest Mississippi.

The new funding, announced last week by U.S. Sen. Thad Cochranand Third Dist. U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, follows a $72,000Economic Development Administration grant received last year topurchase GIS equipment and software.

“This is additional funding for that program until it becomesself-sufficient,” said Roy Geoghegan, who sought the grants onbehalf of the Southwest Mississippi Planning and DevelopmentDistrict.

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Officials said GIS can provide timely access to a variety ofeconomic development and planning data involving mapping, zoning,land use, utilities and roads. In many cases, Geoghegan said, thedata is information that counties are required to have.

“A lot of it is making what they’re already doing a lot easier,”Geoghegan said. “Once the data is in the system, they can do morewith it.”

Cochran and Pickering hailed economic development and potentialjob creation dividends due to GIS. SWMPDD counties include Lincoln,Lawrence, Pike, Franklin, Walthall, Amite, Wilkinson, Franklin,Adams and Claiborne.

“I am pleased that the USDA is providing federal funding tothese counties to coordinate economic development activities inthat region,” Cochran said. “I hope these communities will benefitfrom better access to planning tools and data.”

Geoghegan said the GIS equipment arrived in the summer. He saidit is very new project and still in the development stage.

“We’re just really starting to get out and show counties andmarket the service,” Geoghegan said.

Geoghegan and Bobby Smith, GIS specialist, gave a presentationto Lincoln County supervisors last month.

Supervisors have expressed an interest in using the system inconnection with tax parcel mapping that must be done. Smith was inthe process of developing cost estimates for the service.

Lincoln County Tax Assessor-Collector Nancy Jordan said themapping does not need to be done until 2006. However, she washopeful the planning district’s GIS services would be able tolessen some of the expected costs.

“We’re hoping to get some help to help the taxpayers with it,”Jordan said.

Geoghegan said the service will become self-sufficient throughcontracts with cities and counties. Like other officials, he saidGIS could help communities in a variety of ways.

“The uses are numerous,” Geoghegan said.