Tour looks at economic development

Published 6:00 am Friday, March 3, 2006

Mississippi Economic Council members and area economicdevelopment leaders Wednesday exchanged thoughts and ideas on howto boost economic development efforts for the state and southwestMississippi.

As part of MEC’s Interchange Tour, President Blake Wilsonpromoted aspects of the Momentum Mississippi economic developmentpackage and efforts to create a “prosperous, vibrant and resilient”state.

Wilson hailed the spirit of the state’s citizens and work force,but said the distance between populated areas is a hindrance ineconomic development. He urged government and economic developmentleaders to come together to improve their parts of the state.

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“Regional thinking makes sense,” Wilson said.

While not endorsing the actual project, Wilson commended thespirit of an industrial park proposal being sought by three northMississippi counties.

Wilson said regional cooperation is a “critical need ,”especially for an area like southwest Mississippi. He called forincentives for projects that utilize regional cooperation.

Wilson’s comments found a receptive audience among Kiwanis Clubmembers and other guests.

Bob Smira, economic development director for Lawrence County,cited his community’s support for a major project being consideredfor Natchez. Despite the distance away, he said the project couldhave benefits for Lawrence County.

“It does make sense to work together for the good of theregion,” Smira said.

Bill Sones, Bank of Brookhaven president and an active MECmember, agreed. He countered a perception that losing an industrialprospect to a neighboring county is not a good thing.

“It’s not the worst thing that could happen to us. It’s the nextbest thing that could happen to us,” Sones said.

Among other Momentum Mississippi focus areas, Wilson cited theimportance of education, infrastructure, incentives for expandingexisting industries and having a sustainable long-range plan forgrowth.