Regionalism should be unified

Published 12:05am Friday, November 15, 2013

Years ago, while talking about regionalism Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said something important and profound.

Copeland said he knew regionalism was important because of his travel experiences.

“When I travel, no one knows where Vidalia, La., is, but when I tell them I’m right across the river from Natchez, they know right where I’m from,” he said.

Copeland is correct. Regionalism is important and the Mississippi and Louisiana sides of our community are united in so many ways — but particularly in matters of business and commerce.

So why do we still have two economic development entities?

It’s a question we pondered this week after reading that Concordia Parish’s economic development agency plans to pursue a public-private partnership like the one that formed Natchez Inc., the economic development engine for Natchez-Adams County.

We applaud Concordia Parish on seeking to convince the business community to put a little skin in the economic development game.

But most businesses in the area depend on drawing customers or workers — often both — from each side the river.

So before we fully reinvent the wheel, could we consider the possibility of joining forces for economic development purposes?

We realize economic development matters often involve situations in which the states of Mississippi and Louisiana may be competing for projects.

But with a little work and some ingenuity, it could be made to work. Besides, most things worth doing aren’t easy, but the rewards can be great.

Economic development’s role is to foster existing business and recruit new ones. If a combined agency could improve that effort, we should strongly consider how that might be accomplished.