River’s impact continues to help region

Published 12:05am Sunday, October 20, 2013

Once upon a time, Natchez’s economy was tied — heavily tied — to the Mississippi River.

Centuries ago, the area was settled by Native Americans who certainly used the resources of the river for survival.

Later, the river brought commerce and an economical way of shipping goods to and from Natchez.

For a period of time in the mid-20th century, our dependence on the river seemed to change a bit as river traffic gave way to the desire to push goods and people on highways and railroads instead.

Today, as we’re early in the 21st century, we’re learning more and more just how much our economy is returning to the river.

Natchez Inc., the area’s economic development authority, reports that industrial property with river access is among our area’s most prized assets.

Business developers are dreaming up new ways to harness the use of the river. Plans have been publicized to submerge small hydroelectric turbines in the river to generate electrical power from the mighty Mississippi.

Last week, Natchez Mayor Butch Brown joined forces with other river leaders participating in the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative. The group announced new partnerships between businesses and organization to consider how to utilize container-on-barge as a way to further enhance river commerce.

The concept has some merit since significant amounts of global commerce enter and exit the United States in shipping containers. Using the national premier waterway to further reach into the heartland with those containers makes sense.

It also reminds us that the Mississippi River is more than just a pretty scene in our backyard, it connects us to the world — just as it always has.