Investment in economic development strategy for city and county is the right move

Published 7:01 pm Saturday, August 5, 2017

It’s a step in the right direction.

The Warren County Port Commission’s decision to contribute $20,000 toward developing an economic development strategy for Vicksburg and Warren County is a move that will pay dividends in the future. We hope it will encourage other businesses and industries to contribute toward hiring a consultant to work with the commissioners and the Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce in developing a comprehensive, long-range plan that can help both entities focus on the best way to attract new business and keep and encourage our present industries to remain and expand.

So much has been made about Warren County’s assets such as the Mississippi River, railroad access, access to two major highways, our history and culture.

And while there have been prior economic development plans, none were apparently able to find the key that could bring everything together to make Vicksburg and Warren County the jewel that is should be in west central Mississippi.

That’s what makes this new attempt to develop a plan so important. Things are changing in Warren County and Vicksburg.

Pablo Diaz, the area’s new economic development director, is energetic and enthusiastic about moving this area in the direction to make it more attractive to new business and industry, and he has the proper connections to help reach that goal.

The county’s education system is improving and is being seen as a model for the state. Its latest accomplishment is becoming a Ford Next Generation Learning participant, providing career-based programs to better prepare students to either find jobs after graduation or earn credit toward a college degree.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen are beginning to make changes in the way the city functions and interested in becoming a part of the county’s overall economic development process.

Diaz told port commissioners in June the proposed strategy will include promoting the Ceres Industrial Park and finding opportunities to expand develop the port, and look at other opportunities that Vicksburg is well situated to do, such as technology-related economic development and education-related economic development programs.

And he wants this plan to set priorities.

“There are many opportunities that we can take advantage of and I want the community to come together and decide which is the most important one. (So) We don’t go out chasing all kinds of things and we don’t get anything,” he said.