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Boards opt for a retail strategy

Those concerned about economic development for Brookhaven and Lincoln County were invited to a private party Tuesday that the general public couldn’t attend.

Members of the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors hosted the get-together with Brookhaven Mayor Joe Cox and city aldermen  at the boardroom at the Lincoln County Government Complex.

It was held during the regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

Lincoln County Chancery Clerk Tillman Bishop opened the meeting by saying, “We need to discuss retail strategy.”

Bishop called on Garrick Combs, executive director of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, to talk about retail strategies.

So Combs requested the board go into a closed-door executive session for discussion.

Besides supervisors and Brookhaven aldermen, the executive board of the Chamber was also present as well as a few invited guests.

During the nearly 90-minute private meeting, representatives from The Retail Coach, a retail economic development group from Tupelo, gave a multi-media presentation to the group.

It must have been a good presentation, because by the end of the day both the Board of Supervisors and the Board of Aldermen agreed to contract with The Retail Coach for one year for $36,500 — with the supervisors and aldermen each putting up half.

The retail group will assist the city in doing analysis of its retail environment, and then help the city and Chamber actively recruit to fill retail holes.

The contract with The Retail Coach can be renewed yearly, if the parties elect to do so, Bishop said.

At the Brookhaven aldermen meeting Tuesday night, board members went into executive session to discuss economic development. After returning, Ward 6 Alderman David Phillips introduced a motion to go ahead with the contract.

“I move that we partner with the county in hiring The Retail Coach to enhance and develop the retail gap to create jobs and tax funding for the city of Brookhaven,” said Phillips, “and it be paid through the economic development funds that we have in reserve.”

Aldermen voted unanimously to hire the retail group for one year.