ASU developing economic plan for area

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 7, 1999

Alcorn State University is continuing its plans for a regional economic development strategic plan for southwest Mississippi.

&uot;We are working with Stacey & Associates of Mobile, Ala., to develop a five-county regional strategic plan for Adams, Jefferson, Claiborne, Wilkinson and Franklin counties,&uot; said Jackie Mitchell, director of Alcorn’s Center of Rural Life and Economic Development.

Mitchell presented an update Monday to Adams County supervisors on the joint project of Alcorn State University and the counties involved.

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Funds for the study came from a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. But the real driving force behind the project was Alcorn President Cinton Bristow Jr., Mitchell said.

&uot;Dr. Bristow strongly believes in the university’s outreach into the community,&uot; she said.

County supervisors have been critical in the establishment of rural life centers in Natchez, Port Gibson, Fayette, Woodville and Meadville, she said. Counties have provided physical space for the centers while Alcorn has provided both equipment and personnel.

Through the process of research, Alcorn will look at the economic development framework of each county in five ways: business development, workforce development, physical infrastructure, social infrastructure and civic infrastructure.

&uot;We’ll look at the specific needs of these counties and formulate strategies to enhance their efforts and advancement,&uot; Mitchell said.

The long range objective of the program will be to provide each county with the resources to improve its economic standing.

&uot;Natchez has an Economic Development Authority, but these other counties don’t have an EDA,&uot; Mitchell said. &uot;It will take some time to build our data structure, but our long range goal is to make this a tool for the community.&uot;

On Feb. 7, representatives from Stacey & Associates will meet Adams County supervisors for the first time.

Following the initial introduction, Mitchell said Stacey & Associates will meet with supervisors individually to gain additional guidance on the needs of Adams County.

&uot;The board of supervisors has been the lead entity at local levels,&uot; Mitchell said. &uot;We don’t want to dictate to them, we really want them to take a leadership role.&uot;

Stacey & Associates is scheduled to complete their strategic plan for each of the five counties in July 2000, she said.