Gilmer: Good, Steady Leadership Matters Most to the Future of Vicksburg

Published 8:00 am Friday, June 4, 2021

By Margaret Gilmer, Chairman of the Vicksburg Warren Economic Development
Foundation

As a community member, as a businesswoman and as a professional that has been involved in
community and economic development for many years, I have come to the conclusion that
steady, good leadership is key to creating and sustaining an environment of success for a
community.

There is a reason we say Rome was not built in a day, and that is because it takes time to build
something great. It takes time and it takes good, steady leadership.

As a long-time member and current Chairman of the Vicksburg Warren Economic Development Foundation (the EDF), I have been witness to the great things that we can do in our community when the business community and the local governments work together for the common good in a public-private partnership.

This type of cooperation is what allowed us in 2017 to create the Vicksburg-Warren Economic Development Partnership, which has helped us attract new industries to the area in the past few years, and helped us expand existing businesses and training opportunities for them and their employees through our partnerships with HCC and
others. These partnerships are what have spearheaded the creation of the Mississippi Center for Innovation and Technology in Downtown Vicksburg, as well as the plans to expand our Port Infrastructure in the region. Of these projects, some have provided jobs and investments immediately and some will do it in the years to come, some are mid-term projects and some are generational projects designed to shape the future economic landscape of Vicksburg and Warren County. To successfully complete these projects, the community needs continued good, steady leadership at all government levels, which coupled with the business sector and the
community at large, can create the greatest good for all.

The EDF many times has celebrated the leadership that Mayor Flaggs and Aldermen Monsour and Mayfield have provided in recent years. Although not always perfect, the City Government has worked together with the private sector and the County Government to accomplish a number of very important goals for our community and to cast a vision for the future that is unveiling in front of our eyes as months and years go forward. Mayor Flaggs and Alderman Monsour have provided unmatched access to relationships in Jackson and Washington D.C. that have proven tremendously beneficial to our community, including more than $15 million in funds that have been brought to our community for a variety of projects around the City and
County. Rome was not build in a day and Vicksburg won’t be either. We have a responsibility to not only manage our community’s affairs but to cast and build a vision for the future. The casting of such vision has been successfully done, now we must continue working together to finish the build out phase of the vision we created for our community. To do that, we need the continued, good, steady leadership of Flaggs, Monsour and Mayfield to remain in place, and we also need them to continue to work together with the Board of Supervisors as they have done over the past two years.

Leadership matters and relationships matter when you build a community, especially when it is in an environment where you compete on a national or worldwide basis. This is evident by the job creation in Vicksburg and Warren County in the past few years after we formed the Economic Development Partnership in 2017.

As a community, we have proven that if you put the work and the investment in, results will follow. There have been more than 812 direct full time jobs that have come to Vicksburg since 2017 with an associated payroll of $32.3 million per year and a direct capital investment of $148 million. These jobs resulted from the relocation to our area of companies like Unified Brands, Eco Pak, Industrial Wood Products, Winfield United and Vicksburg Forest Products, among others, as well as the expansions of some of our very important existing companies. This was to
name a few but not to forget our many, many small businesses that have stepped up to help
meet the needs of our community. As we continue the work in 2021, the EDF will continue to support the attraction of jobs and investment. We will work with the Chamber of Commerce, The Port Commission, the County and the City to address the needs of our existing businesses and industries and to fill the reported number of jobs available through Work Force Development or other tools. We will work to generate solutions to the community’s housing shortage and will work on long term planning to accommodate further growth for river-related and manufacturing facilities.

We believe that the future is bright for Vicksburg and Warren County, but we must not forget that the progress and balance achieved is inherently fragile. It will continue to take good, steady leadership to meet a vision of greatness for future generations. It could also only take a shift in the wrong direction to set us back.