Entergy: Vicksburg has all the positives needed to develop

Published 10:30 am Friday, June 23, 2017

It might not be the most important criteria to industries looking for a new home or looking to expand, but quality of life is quickly moving up the list.

During a presentation to members and guests of the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, Ed Gardner, the business and economic development director for Entergy, said in addition to skilled labor, incentives and energy costs, the overall community experience is growing more important.

“Years ago, if you were selling your quality of life, you were not going to win,” Gardner said of landing projects. “At that time, they were focused on cost of labor, incentives. While those are still important, quality of life is becoming more and more important.”

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Areas such as quality of education, crime, community assets and recreational opportunities all play a role today in becoming a player in a very competitive economic development market.

Other items important to site selectors, in order of importance, according to Gardner, include skilled labor, highway accessibility, occupancy and construction costs, available buildings, labor costs, corporate tax rate, proximity to a major market, state and local government incentives and energy availability and cost.

Gardner, who gave his presentation during the chamber’s monthly luncheon, this month held at The Anthony, was part of the selection committee put together by local economic leaders in ultimately hiring Pablo Diaz, who now leads the chamber and port commissions.

It was that selection, and the effort underway to unify the chamber, the port and the Economic Development Foundation, all under one umbrella, known as the Partnership, that Gardner said will make Vicksburg and Warren County a more fierce competitor.

“We have seen throughout the state, that you do not need different agencies doing the same thing,” he said. “Consolidation of those services is important.”

As for Vicksburg and Warren County, Gardner said the area has everything needed to compete.

“I don’t like to speak in superlatives,” he said. “But I have never seen a community with what you have. You have the river, Interstate 20, proximity to a metro area, Class 1 railroad traveling east and west and of course, ERDC.”

He said the economic potential for future development tied to the U.S. Army’s Engineer Research and Development Center is a huge plus for the area.

In addition to what the area currently has, Gardner was interested in learning more about the educational changes and development in Vicksburg and Warren County, particularly that of the incoming career academies tied to the Ford Next Generation Learning partnership with the Vicksburg Warren School District.

And, in a way to support that effort, he presented a $5,000 check from Entergy to the Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce to help with the implementation of the Vicksburg Warren College & Career Academy as part of the Ford Next Generation Learning initiative.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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