Leaders seek new facility for town services

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wesson officials are hoping to centralize the town’s municipalfunctions in a new government complex, but the final word onfunding for the project rests with state officials.

Gov. Haley Barbour has stated that he will not support any bonds- the funding source Wesson hopes to use to construct its proposedfacility – unless they promote economic development, locallegislators have said.

The proposed government complex in Wesson, however, is designedto meet those ends. While municipal functions such as offices,courtrooms and the library will be moved into the bottom floor ofthe complex, the second floor will house business incubators, atype of communal system for beginning enterprises.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“If someone wants to start a business in town, they would shareutilities, floor space and a secretary,” Wesson Mayor Alton Shawsaid of the business incubators. “It will reduce the initialoverhead and foster new businesses.”

Shaw said the grouping of beginning businesses would not onlyhelp the entrepreneurs cut down on costs, but being located soclose to town functions would also help them get established.

“People don’t have to go to any certain business,” he said. “Buteverybody has to go to city hall, to the library. And while they’rein there, it helps to have other business incentives available.That’s why, in the old days, the courthouse squares were laid outin the center of town – that’s where all the businesses were.”

Shaw said there are some who believe that business incubatorswould be useless in a town the size of Wesson, but the mayorbelieves modernity has neutralized the problem of population.

“Some people may question business incubators in our town, butwith telecommunications they way they are, with the Internet andthe global market, anyone can do business anywhere,” Shaw said.

Shaw believes the business incubator model is sound, but it allcomes down to the events at the Capitol in Jackson.

Based on comments made earlier this week at a legislativebreakfast in Wesson by District 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith,D-Brookhaven, and the recent actions of the Mississippi DevelopmentAuthority, Shaw is optimistic about the government complex’schances of funding.

“The governor wants all bonds related to economic development -this is potentially a huge economic development incentive becausethere aren’t any other models like this in the area,” Shaw said.”Our legislators say the business incubator model could possiblyget through the Legislature. Plus, MDA has been funding courthouseslike crazy lately. With a library included, it should be high ontheir list.”

At the legislative breakfast, Hyde-Smith said the idea forWesson’s proposed government complex with business incubators hadbeen “well received,” but the Legislature has yet to tackle thisyear’s list of requested bonds. She is, however, on the case.

“The deadline hasn’t passed for the bond bills and we haven’ttaken any up – they’re not even on the calender yet,” Hyde-Smithsaid in a later discussion. “I am going to talk to the chairmanabout it and see what the chances are. I think Wesson’s governmentcomplex definitely qualifies and meets the governor’s criteria fora bond.”