What kind of industries is area targeting?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 17, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; Looking at what takes to land a business or industry in the Miss-Lou begs the question: What types of industries are the Economic Development Authority and its partners targeting in their search?

For one, the EDA targeting high-tech industries such as digital imaging &045; for, thanks to cutting-edge computer technology, such businesses can be located almost anywhere, even smaller cities.

The engineering firm Michael Baker Inc. is a good example, since it will have a 12-person staff dedicated to mapping using the latest computer hardware and software.

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Another example is a building Alcorn State University is establishing in downtown Natchez to house high-tech businesses. That university is already courting digital imaging businesses to locate in that facility.

The area might also be a good fit for call centers &045; places cellular telephone customers, computer users and the like call for customer assistance.

One site that has been mentioned as a good site for call centers, as well as other industries, is Natchez’s former International Paper mill site.

The EDA and its partners are also looking at ways to build on the area’s existing higher education and health care facilities.

&uot;We’re already an educational and medical hub,&uot; EDA Executive Director Michael Ferdinand said.

The EDA is also researching how it can best court other emerging industries such as medicine manufacturing.

In addition to the manufacturing of second- and third-tier automotive components &045; a given, due to the location of a Nissan plant in Mississippi &045; the agency is also looking at metal fabrication, plastics, petrochemicals, specialty foods and wood products as sectors to target.

Those targets are based on a study commissioned by the Southwest Partnership, a group of economic developers from the region.

After the study was released, the EDA Board went into retreat last fall to hone the list to a few key industries to target, Ferdinand said.