Trust key to Miss-Lou economic partnership

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The first thing you have to do is trust each other. That’s the advice of Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith, who is working with leaders on the other side of the state line in Alabama to lure economic development projects to the two-state area.

Perhaps that’s easier said than done.

But it’s what our communities and states have to do in order to partner.

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These days, it’s getting harder and harder for one community or state to be competitive for major industries. With tight state budgets, incentives are hard to come by.

By partnering and pooling resources &045; not only on incentives but in sharing labor statistics and other information &045; we have a greater chance of landing the big-ticket projects.

No one is saying we have to give away the store in order to partner with each other, but we’re going to have to think outside the box &045; and outside state lines &045; if our region wants to be competitive in landing the large projects that can change communities.

East Missisippi and west Alabama are already way ahead of the game on this. With one agreement in place between the governors and half of the legislation signed, the states are well on their way to a strong partership.

We need to continue to work toward a similar partnership between Mississippi and Louisiana. The push needs to come on a local level &045; and community leaders have already shown a willingness to work together &045; but we can’t lose the momentum.

And state leaders need to step up and help us complete the deal. For too long Natchez and Concordia Parish have felt &uot;left out&uot; of their states’ economic development efforts; this is an opportunity for state leaders to show they are behind us.

But they’ve got to trust us, and we’ve got to trust each other.