Capitol day set for Feb. 10

Published 6:00 am Friday, January 9, 2009

Local government and business leaders are gearing up for theirannual exhibition at the state Capitol in Jackson, where progressmade toward Brookhaven’s industrial future will figure prominentlyin their attempts to showcase the community to state leaders.

The development of Linbrook Business Park has raced ahead sincelast year’s Brookhaven Day at the Capitol – a morning-long eventdesigned to publicize Brookhaven and Lincoln County – when thelocal delegation triumphantly informed Gov. Haley Barbour the sitewas under construction and growing.

When the same party travels to the Capitol on Feb. 10 for thisyear’s effort to “sell” the community, they will be able to tellstate leaders the $6 million investment on the county’s future isonly months away from completion, and almost ready to situatejob-providing industries.

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“This year, we can give a progress report that our water toweris now 90 percent complete, our infrastructure is well underconstruction and we have made great progress,” saidBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive VicePresident Cliff Brumfield. “All in all, much has been accomplishedin a mere 12 months toward making Linbrook ready as the grounds forfuture employment.”

Brumfield said the Brookhaven delegation would simply tout localaccomplishments like Linbrook – not ask state leaders for anyspecific action or contribution. Brookhaven Day at the Capitol isnot a lobbying mission, but a promotion of Brookhaven and LincolnCounty designed to show government officials the pride and carewith which the community is tended.

Beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda, city, county andlocal business officials will be on hand serving breakfast andbumping shoulders with Mississippi’s lawmakers to increase theirawareness of what Brookhaven has to offer.

The breakfast and door prize, a Nintendo Wii, are meant to lurelegislators to the delegation’s station, where politicking willcommence. This year’s slogan for the event – Together, Wii Can – isa play off the door prize.

Students from the Mississippi School of the Arts – another localattraction leaders will trumpet – will be on hand to display theirart and talents. Last year, the school’s choir performed at theevent, catching many lawmakers’ ears.

The Brookhaven delegation will also likely sit in briefly on thelegislative session and be recognized by lawmakers before theybreak for lunch.

Brumfield said Brookhaven’s casual, friendly approach tointroducing itself to state leaders has been successful. Severalother cities around the state have copied the procedure for theirown days at the Capitol, he said.

“This allows us an easy format to come as a community and give afew statements reminding [lawmakers] of what we’re doing to betterourselves, our community and our state,” Brumfield said.

Working in the local delegation’s favor this year is the factthat its main selling point, Linbrook, no longer needs outsideassistance financially. In fact, Brookhaven Mayor Bob Massengillsaid the park just needs a little promotion, he said.

“If I had just a few minutes alone with the governor, I wouldtell him we need his and the legislators’ help in sending us somepotential businesses for the park,” Massengill said. “If they willhelp get them here, I promise you we can sell them on ourcommunity, our workforce and our quality of life.”

Lincoln County Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop said that whiletending to official business during Brookhaven Day at the Capitolis important, it’s not as important as simply saying, “Thankyou.”

“This meeting is an appreciation meeting,” he said. “It’s ashowcase meeting and a relationship-building meeting. It shows ourlegislators that we have the county, city and business communitytogether on projects, and it’s important for them to knowthat.”

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce President StanFoster said the appreciative format of the event helps to setBrookhaven and Lincoln County apart from other communities.

“We sell Brookhaven – our schools, our medical community, thework ethic of our people,” he said. “Everything works together.We’ve got to sing with one voice, and I think we’ve done that.”

Brookhaven Day at the Capitol has allowed local leaders to “singwith one voice” for seven consecutive years. Brookhaven-LincolnCounty Chamber of Commerce Programs Director Kay Burton said theevent was started in 2002 under the guidance of former Rep. Dr. JimBarnett as a rallying tool for the then-uncertain future ofMSA.

“It was very successful from the standpoint of we were able,during times when MSA funding was in jeopardy, to promote good willand visibility,” she said. “We helped keep Brookhaven a viablelocation for MSA when some legislators wanted to combine it with[the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in]Columbus.”

MSA continues to be a part of Brookhaven Day at the Capitol, butthe event has shifted into a permanent annual fixture since itsearly days.

“It puts a name, face and personal touch on our area,” Burtonsaid.