Though business-friendly, the City does not control new retail offerings

Published 4:00 pm Thursday, August 3, 2023

As the City of Brookhaven welcomes new businesses such as Huey Magoo’s, T.J. Maxx and Starbucks, vocal area residents have taken to social media in both support and critique of what businesses are coming — and which ones are not.

Comments on business stories from The Daily Leader have expressed desire to see another “sit-down” restaurant, or a major chain grocery store come into the city.

Garrick Combs, executive director of both the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial Development Foundation, wants citizens to understand what the role of the city is and is not when it comes to attracting new and varied business.

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“The City of Brookhaven does not control the real estate or have any incentives whatsoever to entice a retail chain to come here,” said Combs. “The role of government is somewhat limited. In industrial development, we do control the real estate and there are tons of incentives. They are two vastly different worlds.”

Combs said the city, Mayor Joe Cox and his staff all try to be business-friendly and accommodating, and “they do a great job of that,” but that’s really all they can do.

“In terms of what we have here in Brookhaven, there are three or four places you can get a steak or a fantastic meal that far surpass a national or regional chain,” said Combs. “We do everything we can at our disposal to make this a business-friendly place. The City has someone who is actively pitching Brookhaven and telling our story, and we have national and regional brands in or coming to Brookhaven.”

When national brands advertise along Interstate 55, it’s a big draw that brings people into the city, Combs said.

“It opens their eyes to other things on our retail corridor,” he said. “The numbers reflect it. We have caught and surpassed McComb and Natchez in sales tax revenue. That speaks volumes about what is going on here, and we are actively fishing for more.”

According to the Mississippi Department of Revenue, in Fiscal Year 2022-2023 (ending June 30), McComb recorded $6.55 million in sales tax revenue, and Natchez recorded $5.90 million. Brookhaven, however, received $6.94 million in sales tax revenue.

“Considering the options we have,” Combs said, “we’re not doing bad.”

Brookhaven has 3 grocery stores — Sullivan’s, Save-a-Lot, and Walmart. What do you value in a grocery store?

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