Local mayors meet

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

Mayors of Ferriday, Vidalia and Natchez met Friday to pledge to work more closely on economic development projects for the region.

The meeting is likely just the first in a series of sessions on how to attract jobs, said Ferriday Mayor Gene Allen, who called the meeting.

&uot;Our intent is to focus on coming up with a Miss-Lou concept to talk about industry for our people,&uot; Allen said. &uot;This was a starting point.&uot;

Email newsletter signup

In future meetings, the mayors hope to expand the number of participants, Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said.

&uot;Hopefully, we’ll be getting with the public and private sector,&uot; Copeland said.

It was the first time Copeland could recall the mayors of those cities coming together for such an agreement.

&uot;This is a new beginning,&uot; he said. &uot;This is a new direction for all of us.&uot;

Copeland said the mayors want to include surrounding parishes and counties as well.

&uot;If we’re going to succeed economically, we need a regional concept,&uot; he said.

Natchez Mayor Phillip West agreed the meeting was a good start.

&uot;It was a good meeting,&uot; West said. &uot;I’m glad we’ve finally gotten together.&uot;

A show of unity among the three communities &045;&045; as well as the rest of the region &045;&045; can help influence lawmakers, West said.

&uot;We want to make sure legislators know we are working together,&uot; West said.

Allen pointed out that Concordia Parish often feels &uot;left out&uot; of the rest of Louisiana &045;&045; while Southwest Mississippi feels neglected by its state as well.

&uot;If we can get together, we have some bargaining strength,&uot; Allen said.

All three mayors said they recognize that any industry that comes to the area will benefit all of their communities.

&uot;We realize that Natchez is the hub. But we need to extend our outer arms (to other areas),&uot; Copeland said.

He pointed out that International Paper, which closed its Natchez mill in July 2003, leaving 640 people out of work, had 25 percent of its workforce living in Concordia Parish.

&uot;Every business we bring to the area benefits our entire area,&uot; Copeland said.

The mayors plan to meet again within the next month, Copeland said.