Community must agree on strategy

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 7, 2003

It was not unexpected, but that does nothing to take the sting from the layoff today of 28 of the 53 employees from HB Zachry in Natchez.

The layoffs were, unfortunately, inevitable. Zachry provides maintenance for International Paper’s Natchez mill, which announced recently that it will close by mid-year.

We are hopeful that the workers losing their jobs will be able to find employment soon.

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And we can still hope for a miracle that the IP mill can be saved &045; perhaps by another buyer &045; but at this point it’s time for Natchez to pick up the pieces and move on.

We have heard the arguments that city and county officials haven’t done enough to make provisions for the economic reality with which we are now faced.

We have heard the lamentation that Natchez just isn’t what it used to be.

But we don’t have time to wallow in the past or worry about what might have been.

A community meeting earlier this week that brought together business leaders and elected officials is a good start.

But the meetings of this new community alliance cannot be just that &045; they must be productive conversations that breed the common strategy and action we need to bring the Natchez economy out of this tough spot in which we find ourselves.