EDA’s future now in hands of Legislature

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 1, 2001

Amid challenges and goals set forth by the governor, the Mississippi Legislature will consider hundreds of bills and recommendations when it convenes its session today.

Among those will be one of critical importance to Natchez and Adams County residents: a proposed legislative change to restructure the Natchez-Adams County Economic and Community Development Authority into a jointly funded, five-member commission.

The proposal, which has been endorsed by both the city aldermen and the county supervisors, will formally revamp the floundering 15-member commission which exists today.

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The consensus on restructuring has been a long time in coming – more than two years – and much sweat and political negotiating has taken place to bring our community to this part.

Now, it is up to our legislative delegation to complete the final step in the process. And we urge those lawmakers – Sens. Bob M. Dearing and Robert Johnson III and Reps. Andrew Ketchings and Phillip West – to walk this legislation through the process.

Because, if they do so with unity and a single focus, we can finally remove the last excuse offered so often in explaining why the agency has failed to produce the results expected so far. True, the EDA does boast some outstanding successes – its grant programs and the wooing of Stewart Orchids among the top; and, much of the agency’s success lies in working with already established industries here in Adams County – a critical step that carries little glory or public commendation.

But, we all expect more. Our community needs an influx of industry – large or small – to boost our economy and help us grow. We need a proactive, results-oriented and, honestly, aggressive EDA to drive that process. If shrinking the size of the board from a cumbersome 15 to a reasonable five members, combined with a restructured funding plan that demands support from both the city and county, is the answer – then let’s do it … quickly.