Young adults not the only future for city

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

It&8217;s one of the first things new hires in The Democrat&8217;s newsroom want to know &8212; how many people their age live in Natchez?

Since we often hire new or recent college graduates just beginning their careers, answering that question is sometimes a bit tricky.

But what we found in reporting and writing last week&8217;s series of stories about the young adults in the Miss-Lou is that there are many more than anyone might have thought.

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Whether natives who have moved back with young families or transplants (like many of us in the newsroom) young adults are the future of our community.

As we approached the series, we wondered how many young adults we might be able to interview.

What we found surprised us. We have a lot of young adults in Natchez &8212; young couples, young singles, young families.

They enjoy going to the movies, going to bars, and even just talking at church groups and at each other&8217;s houses.

But they want more &8212; more people their age and more things to do.

Last year, as a sort of experiment, Natchez-Adams County Economic Development Authority Chairman Woody Allen asked high school students what they wanted to see in Natchez in the future.

Among a few smart aleck replies were the same kind of requests The Democrat found &8212; things like more entertainment options and new job opportunities.

At a time when Natchez is struggling economically, it can be hard to find the bright spots.

But the young adults in the Miss-Lou show that we do have a very bright future indeed.

&8220;That&8217;s the future of our town,&8221; Allen said. &8220;That tells you Natchez does have a chance to grow.

&8220;They&8217;re going to recharge the whole area.&8221;

That&8217;s why Allen is doing his part, in his volunteer role as EDA chairman, to bring new jobs here.

&8220;If we could just get something here to reignite our whole area,&8221; Allen said.

Jobs like those in a technology park the EDA, the city and the county have been working on with Alcorn State University would help, Allen said.

&8220;There&8217;s no doubt those kind of jobs can change our image,&8221; he said. &8220;That&8217;s the kind of thing that can bring in new jobs. If you get 50 jobs, all it will do is continue to spread.&8221;

Natchez has been through many generations of change &8212; and many incarnations of our economy, from cotton planters to merchants to manufacturers.

What the future brings will depend not only on what our young adults bring to the table but what all of us bring to the table.

I have a better answer to the question from young reporters &8212; but I will still tell them that one of my favorite things about our community is its diversity, in ages, races, personalities.

Young adults &8212; and obviously I&8217;m one of them &8212; are our future.

But so are retirees and tourists and natives. It will take all of us pulling in the right direction to make that vision for the future a reality.

Kerry Whipple

is editor of The Democrat. She can be reached at 445-3541 or by e-mail at