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Area economy set for prosperous 2004

As the last days of 2003 wind down, the Brookhaven and LincolnCounty economic picture remains bright for 2004.

Recent economic indicators have all provided mostly good newsfor the community.

Sales tax collections and construction activity are up and goingwell.

Following a sluggish fiscal year 2003 that ended in June,Brookhaven’s monthly sales tax collections have surpassed those ofthe same periods last year. Through November, the approximately$132,000 more taken in this year represents about an 8 percentgrowth so far in fiscal year 2004.

Area merchants reported healthy sales before and afterChristmas, so December’s and January’s sales tax totals should alsobe good. It’s important to note that the friendly and qualityservices that local merchants provide is an important factor inhelping to keep the economy strong.

A look around Brookhaven and Lincoln County will yield a varietyof building projects under way. City officials said both commercialand residential work is moving ahead even though the winter monthsare traditionally a slower time for construction.

Unemployment is also up slightly, but Lincoln County still hadthe lowest rate in southwest Mississippi. October totals, the mostrecent available, showed a slight two-tenths of a point increase to4.7 percent, which was still less than the state and nationalaverages.

As the national economy starts to rebound, Brookhaven , LincolnCounty and the rest of southwest Mississippi can look forward toriding a wave of prosperity into 2004 and beyond.