BY: Joe Buck Coates
Excellent news came out of the CCEDD Board of Trustees meeting last Wednesday. Because of our county’s membership in the Greater Jackson Alliance–a wise investment made by our Board of Supervisors who were sold on the idea by CCEDD director Neil Honan a couple of years ago–our industrial park is drawing some looks from some high-profile lookers.
The Department of Homeland Security is considering a site near Flora, MS for its new National Bio and Agro Defense Lab, which will allow scientists to research the effects of animal and environmental disease threats on humans. Five other sites throughout the country are being looked at, as well. Odds are good that Flora will be able to land the facility, as it has an excellent industrial park and is close to major thoroughfares, rail and air.
If Flora lands the facility, Copiah County is in perfect position in which to locate supplier-type and other secondary facilities–which translates into much higher paying jobs and better benefits. Local businesses would see a relative boom during construction and afterwards.
Even if the high-profile economic development project is not moved to Mississippi, Copiah County is getting some good press in front of some major players in economic development. Two special guests at Wednesday’s meeting who are project managers with the Alliance spoke highly of Copiah County and the CCEDD’s commitment to a high level of economic development. Driving to the Thames Center at Co-Lin that morning, they passed by our industrial park and through our communities and, subsequently, spoke highly of our area. Undoubtedly, this sort of collateral will be strong in the long run.
The Alliance serves as the marketing arm for its eight member counties. The organization hosts four trade shows throughout the year in different areas of the country, selling the member counties to site consultants and other economic development decision-makers not only on logistical concerns, but also on our people resources, our business-friendly local governments and our potential to become a greater center of industrial and commercial development.
So, one way or another Copiah County will stand to benefit greatly either way in the long run. By doing things the right way and making wise use of limited funding–as the BOS and CCEDD have with the Alliance–our area will continue to get looks from site consultants on such high-profile projects. And, by making gradual improvements to the industrial park, such as site pads which the BOS has committed to constructing, sooner or later such developers will have no choice but to make Copiah County their next project’s home.