Teamwork is the buzzword for Miss-Lou

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

Mention the word &8220;teamwork,&8221; and many roll their eyes &8212; and that reaction is not entirely unjustified.

Sometimes &8220;teamwork&8221; is just another word coaches use to inspire a team just long enough to real that goal, or that politicians hand out before election time, or that quick-fix management books throw out there as the latest buzzword.

&8220;Working together&8221; often serves as a motto for a community organization or advertising campaign &8212; and, just as often, is soon discarded.

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No wonder people are disillusioned.

At 33, I&8217;m still young enough to be seen as a youngster in many circles, but I&8217;ve seen enough to know few things of any value are accomplished in any community without teamwork.

Think of economic development, programs to meet the needs for those less fortunate, disaster relief and projects to help improve the function and appearance of our community.

Those are just a few of the worthy projects that can&8217;t be accomplished, to some extent, without people working together toward a common goal.

Take economic development, for example. During the recent city election, some voters and candidates alike said such efforts should not be led by government agencies and the EDA, but instead by a coalition of businesspeople.

Even if economic development were to be run that way, you would still need a group of businesspeople committed to putting aside their own agenda, getting to the table and pinning down what industries they want to go after.

Or take infrastructure projects. It takes federal, state and local agencies collaborating and pooling their financial resources to bring those projects to fruition.

Also, consider the mayor or alderman who wants a project for his or her ward. It takes building coalitions &8212; a form of teamwork &8212; within the board to get the votes necessary to make such projects happen.

Or take the problem of substandard housing in many parts of our city. The city, county and nonprofit organizations can put their time and effort into separate projects all they want. But it behooves them to pool their efforts so they don&8217;t duplicate project and don&8217;t direct hard-to-come-by grant and loan funds to projects that aren&8217;t the most needed.

Yes, teamwork seems to be a word that&8217;s circulating more in Natchez these days.

City, county and EDA officials showed teamwork in uniting to state their case for state economic development assistance to Gov. Haley Barbour.

And newly elected Mayor Phillip West has mentioned it in several speeches lately, zeroing in on the need for Natchez&8217;s citizens to put aside their differences and work together to make this community the best it can be.

On the surface, most listeners nod and smile &8212; but the real test will be in the coming weeks, months and years, as we see whether or not the people of Natchez take up that challenge.

If we can&8217;t put down our own personal agendas for the sake of today&8217;s Natchez, we need put them down for the sake of the children and grandchildren we say we want to stay in the area instead of having to leave to find jobs.

Because while we need to take a skeptical look at any new initiatives &8212; particularly when our tax dollars are being spent &8212; and while there are some big industries our small city will probably never get, we need to work together to get the ones we can.

Consider the cost if we don&8217;t.

Nita McCann

is city editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can reached at 445-3554 or by e-mail at