Board of Supervisors need to realize economic development game has changed

Published 6:55 pm Tuesday, October 30, 2018

There is a saying that “No man wants his cause as much as he talks about it.”

When it comes to economic development that appears to be the attitude of the Warren County Board of Supervisors.

One of the themes our county leaders always seemed to bring up when they ran for office was the need to bring more jobs to Warren County, but when they had the chance to put their money where their mouth is and provide financial support to The Partnership when it was formed, they balked, claiming because the Warren County Port Commission, which contributed money to The Partnership, was a part of county government, the county would be paying twice.

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When asked to help pay matching funds for grants to bring Vicksburg Forest Products and Unified Brands to the county, the supervisors balked because, Board President Richard George said, “The company (Vicksburg Forest Products) never made a presentation to us.”

Supervisor John Arnold questioned whether paying the match was illegal.

Vicksburg Forest Products never gave a presentation to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Neither did Unified Brands, yet the city didn’t hesitate to provide matching funds for the Mississippi Development Authority grants.

The supervisors need to realize that economic development has changed in the last 30 years. The days when business and industry representatives came to a community to visit and make a presentation to the Board of Supervisors or the Board of Mayor and Alderman and waited on government’s blessing to come in are over.

By the time a business considers locating or relocating a facility in a community, its researchers have already done their homework and have several potential locations in mind. Mississippi is one of 50 states competing for business and industry and Warren County is one of 82 counties trying to get good jobs for their residents.

Negotiations to locate in an area are done in hours instead of days or months.

The work of recruiting business and industry to the county now lies with the county’s economic development director and its economic development arm. The supervisors need to trust their economic development arm and its director to make the right moves. And they need to take a more active part in recruiting than just sitting in on The Partnership’s meetings.

It’s a shame the supervisors don’t understand that.