Musgrove, area leaders hold economic summit

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 30, 2002

NATCHEZ &045; As busy as Gov. Ronnie Musgrove’s schedule was during his Monday visit to Natchez, he still managed to set aside an hour to discuss the economy with southwest Mississippi officials.

The result: Musgrove pledged to make a Mississippi Development Authority grant available to fund a study on the strengths of the region &045; and how it should market those strengths to attract industry.

&uot;We’re going to work to make a grant available,&uot; Musgrove said after a Monday afternoon speech at the Ramada Hilltop. The amount of the grant and when the region can expect to receive it were not available as of press time Monday.

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At the request of Natchez Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith, Musgrove met for about one hour Monday morning at the Natchez Convention Center with city and county officials from Adams, Jefferson, Claiborne, Franklin and Willkinson counties.

There, they discussed the availability of state incentives to attract industry and areas in which the cities and counties may need to invest more time, effort and funding to attract and retain industries. One example of an area on which the region needs to concentrate is education &045; which, Musgrove pointed out in his speech, is the foundation on which a strong economy stands.

Last month, Smith sent letters to city and county officials throughout southwest Mississippi, asking them to be available to meet with Musgrove to discuss the area’s economic needs.

&uot;I’m glad I did it,&uot; Smith said. &uot;All of us wanted to get a message across, a message that we need some help (for the economy).&uot;

Musgrove reminded local

officials that nationwide economic woes are causing companies across the nation to downsize &045; particularly the wood-related industries on which the region is so dependent.

But the governor encouraged local officials to keep going after new industrial prospects and pledged the support of administration for those efforts, Smith said.

Darryl Grennell, president of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, and Lynwood Easterling, supervisors vice president, said the meeting was a productive one.

&uot;He listened to our needs Š and told us of some incentives we may be in need of&uot; to land current industrial prospects, Grennell said.