City still pursuing industries

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 27, 2000

City officials said they do not intend to let prospective industries courted by former Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown fall through the political cracks.

When Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith was elected June 6, the city was waiting for requests from the U.S. government for Spanish airplanes that would be assembled in Natchez for CASA Aircraft. And a little closer to home, representatives from Litton Industries of New Orleans were planning site visits to Natchez and the Natchez-Adams County Port.

This is the city’s second attempt to lure the shipbuilding company to the area in hopes of building a satellite modular construction facility in Natchez.

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&uot;We certainly do not intend to abandon our efforts to recruit both industries to Natchez,&uot; Ward 3 Alderwoman Sue Stedman said.

Smith and the aldermen discussed sending representatives to Washington, D.C., soon to visit with officials from the two industries and political figures involved, Stedman said.

&uot;We just have a lot on our plate right now,&uot; she said, referring to &uot;housekeeping&uot; duties associated with a new administration.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux agreed the aldermen were poised to move ahead, but added she was concerned how the change in city leadership will affect negotiations.

&uot;Whatever administration is in place should not stop those jobs from coming in,&uot; Arceneaux said. &uot;I’m concerned, but the need for jobs should not be a political ploy.&uot;

Ward 5 Alderman David Massey confirmed the mayor and aldermen discussed sending delegates to Washington in Tuesday’s executive session before the regular business meeting.

&uot;(CASA and Litton) have been moved to the front burner,&uot; Massey said. &uot;We want to keep them interested in us, just like we’re interested in them.&uot;

Smith said he is unsure where the plans stand at the present time, but he plans to continue any worthwhile projects begun before he took office.

&uot;Those projects are not dead and buried,&uot; he said. &uot;There is still a slight chance of those happening.&uot;

Smith said he will do &uot;whatever it takes&uot; to land the industries in Natchez.

Brown said all groundwork and footwork for acquiring the two industries had already been done when he left office.

&uot;The issue of generating requests is where we are now,&uot; he said. &uot;We took it as far as we could take it.&uot;

Relationships between Brown, industry officials and political figures were the basis for both projects, Brown said, but the agreements still stand with or without him.

&uot;I think CASA would be amiss to renege on the agreement,&uot; Brown said. &uot;I think they would abide by that.&uot;

But, Brown said he thinks the level of enthusiasm on both sides has dropped since he left office, and the new mayor and aldermen should &uot;strike while the iron is still hot.&uot;

&uot;We cannot waste this opportunity,&uot; Brown said, referring to the strong representation of the state in Washington right now. &uot;The elected official base is in place …; the administration is in place; the contacts are in place. We don’t have much time before November.&uot;