City again in spotlight Wednesday

Published 8:40 pm Monday, February 15, 2010

Linbrook Business Park will be the top topic Wednesday whenlocal leaders make their annual pilgrimage to Jackson to promotethe home front.

With work on Brookhaven’s newest industrial park rapidly wrappingup, keeping the vast site fresh in the minds of state officials whocould help locate an industry there is the main mission of city andcounty delegates to the 2010 installment of Brookhaven Day at theCapitol, said Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of CommerceExecutive Vice President Cliff Brumfield. He said members wouldfollow the tested method of serving breakfast to legislators andstate officials, cozying up to them elbow-to-elbow and touting thebenefits of Brookhaven for future economic developmentopportunities.

The cozying begins Wednesday at 8 a.m. in the first floor rotundaat the Capitol.

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“We’ve made our investment, and we’re ready for business,”Brumfield said. “(Gov. Haley Barbour) is well aware of our effortsand investments, and we’ll let him know Linbrook … is shovelready for new industries.”

Approximately one week of construction remains before the 400-acrepark is completed with water and infrastructure, but local leadershave long since been marketing the park to prospective industries,Brumfield said. Local economic developers are seeking high-techbiotechnical/biofuels industries to take advantage of the area’svast forestry resources, following the recommendation of the10-count Southwest Mississippi Partnership, an economic developmentcoalition that Lincoln County is a part of.

With the economy still suffering in a two-year slump, industryrecruitment has been tough going, but some positive contacts havebeen made, Brumfield said. He said response from prospectiveindustries has been only preliminary, describing the bites as “mildnibbles.”

“It will take considerable time to fill the park. We have to bepatient and remember the majority of manufacturing projects slatedto being in Mississippi over the last couple of years have beensidelined,” Brumfield said. “But as the economy continues toimprove, we’ll begin to see an increase in interest.”

Another priority in Wednesday’s talks will be the MississippiSchool of the Arts, Brumfield said. The topic of thealways-embattled arts school was to be the top priority for theCapitol visit, but it took a second seat after legislation thatwould move it out of Brookhaven died last week on a legislativedeadline.

“With HB 599 becoming a non-issue, we will not be quite aspressured as we would have been,” he said. “But MSA has always beenat the top of our list, and it will be this year again.”

The MSA Choir will accompany the approximately 30 local delegatesto the Capitol, filling the old stone building with song in what isone of the school’s best outreach efforts.

“The school has always been very welcomed by our representatives,”Brumfield said.

Local delegates will serve a light breakfast to senators,representatives and other state officials who visit the Brookhavenbooths, and Brookhaven-themed coffee mugs will be given away.