Census numbers should make us work harder

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 11, 2001

The 2000 Census figures are in, and they come as no shock to lots of folks in Adams County and Concordia Parish.

The first few population numbers released for our area show that the population in both regions have declined slightly. In 10 years as other parts of Mississippi and Louisiana have grown, Adams County now has 1,000 fewer residents and Concordia Parish lost nearly 600. Adams County’s population fell from 35,356 in 1990 to 34,340 in 2000, a decrease of 2.87 percent. Across the river, Concordia Parish had 20,828 people in 1990 but only 20,247 this year, a drop of 2.79 percent.

So what’s the reason for the slight decline?

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&uot;It’s the lack of jobs,&uot; said Melvin Ferrington, vice president of the Concordia Parish Police Jury. &uot;Our young people get out of school and then

have to go elsewhere to get good-paying jobs.&uot;

Ferrington’s correct. It is difficult to convince promising young people that there’s a future for them in the area.

And while it’s easy to blame such a lag on the poor economy, the end of the petroleum boom or simply bad luck, our community needs to realize that it’s more complicated.

It’s all of our fault.

For years we’ve been trying to convince ourselves that our problems are out of our control – hogwash. We can fix this. We can bring great paying jobs into the area, but we need to do so as a united region with a singular focus and purpose.

Economic development should be our primary goal. And to do that we must have an economic development leader that’s better than the next area’s. We need to find a top-notch, national caliber person to fill the rather large shoes that have been vacant for more than a year.

The Natchez-Adams County Economic and Community Development Authority is working on finding the right person. It needs the support and help of the entire community. For example, creating an economic incentives package for potential industries before they arrive is crucial to luring potential industries as well, as is joining forces from both sides of the river.

With a little cooperation and some hard work, we can make the next census a measurement of our successes rather than of our past complacency.