Economic moves signal reasons for new optimism

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, May 22, 2011

Although prices at the gas pump and other difficulties continueto fuel some economic doldrums, this area is starting to see a fewbright spots on the horizon.

Across the business spectrum from big to small and across the locallandscape in all directions, several projects signal better daysahead for the community.

In the northern part of the city, Pike National Bank has opened itsnew, approximately $4 million facility near the corner of UnionStreet and Highway 51. The move represents confidence on the partof bank leaders that there are financial opportunities to be foundin Brookhaven and Lincoln County.

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Nearby, the bank will soon be joined by a new, almost $5 millionmental health facility being built for Region 8’s services.

The estimated 30,000-square feet, two-building facility will offera full array of mental health services ranging from alcohol anddrug treatment to developmental disabilities assistance. It willalso mean additional employees, although how many is notknown.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the facility is scheduled for Monday.Region 8 officials are looking to move quickly on the project andhave it completed in less than a year.

Add in recent and ongoing improvements and upgrades at King’sDaughters Medical Center and economic vitals of the community arelooking stronger.

In downtown Brookhaven, a group of developers is looking to convertthe former Progressive Men’s shop into apartments and motel rooms.Other developments have also seen downtown spaces made intoapartments, but the motel rooms represent a new angle to capitalizeon the area’s aesthetic ambiance.

Out in the county, the Dollar General retail chain announced plansthis week to build two new stores in the East Lincoln and Loyd Starcommunities. The additions would bring to four the number of DollarGenerals in Lincoln County.

A timetable for the stores’ construction was not known, but acorporate spokesperson said each will have six to 10 employees. Thenew stores are good news as far as jobs for the area and from thestandpoint of business investment.

Another indicator of a rebounding local economy can be found in thearea of city sales tax collections.

For the second month in a row, Brookhaven’s 2011 collectionssurpassed those of the same periods in 2010.

Furthermore, the city’s year to date collections total for fiscalyear 2011 is almost $100,000 more that at the same point in 2010.That represents the biggest percentage growth among the big threecommunities in Southwest Mississippi.

While some vacant storefronts and unfinished projects are stillevident, and uncertainty surrounding the future of the Delphi plantposes a threat beyond the auto parts maker’s doors, the newdevelopment projects and sales tax collections represent reasonsfor optimism as this area’s economic engine looks to regain itssteam.