Do we in Adams County want jobs?

Published 6:52 pm Sunday, April 1, 2007

From 2000 to 2006, the Adams County lost over 3,000 jobs.

But with change comes opportunity. In 2005, the worst natural disaster of recent history devastated the gulf coast and dramatically impacted neighboring counties.

As horrible as Katrina was, opportunities arose due to its occurrence; one in particular being the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act. GO Zone is legislation that provides federal economic development incentives for businesses to build, rebuild in or expand within designated disaster areas.

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Thanks to strong leadership, Adams County was placed in the GO Zone.

However, to take advantage of the GO Zone, projects must be in operation by the end of 2008.

As you are aware, there are two prison management companies considering Adams County: Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group.

The more we learn about these prospects, the more we become excited.

Here is why:


– One of these projects will mean 300 good careers with millions of dollars in annual payroll. These careers will include administrative managers, security professionals, medical professionals, teachers, counselors, maintenance staff and other valuable jobs.

– These companies offer employees competitive wages and comprehensive benefits including medical/dental and life insurance, 401(k) investment plan (including company matching), and disability benefits.

– In addition to the permanent jobs that will be created, with the development of a newly-constructed correctional center comes an estimated 18 months of construction-related jobs, and a number of these may come from our local area.

Economic growth for our community:

– Employed citizens are taxpaying citizens, which enhances revenues to the local tax base.

– As a corporate entity, these companies contribute substantially to local community tax bases where applicable.

For example, they pay valuable property taxes on those owned facilities, (which in Adams County’s case will be $90 million worth) as well as applicable sales taxes on goods and services purchased locally.

These property taxes will enable our county to receive more needed funds on public needs, like education, healthcare, better roads and other initiatives.

– These companies have more purchasing flexibility than the government, so they can shop for the best values for products and services, which often are found in the local community.

A safe neighbor:

-The correctional centers they build and operate are clean, quiet state-of-the-art facilities which will be subtle, and perhaps fairly obscured from the public eye.

– These companies adhere to the nation’s highest correctional standards of operations and have very strong security records and a history of positively serving government.

– Because these companies adhere to very high standards for managing these facilities, employees receive the training and equipment needed to perform their jobs in the safest manner possible.

Leaders and volunteers:

– These companies are leaders in their industry and have gained national respect as well-managed and ethical companies.

They have strong reputations for being leading corporate citizens.

They are active in the communities where their facilities are located, volunteering time and resources to local philanthropic and civic organizations.

One of these companies proposes to build their facility even before they are awarded a government contract. The critical key to making this project work is for CCA to be in operation before the GO Zone deadline of Dec. 31, 2008.

Time is ticking and CCA will build where they are accepted and can get the project online fastest. Pike and Walthall counties are also interested in CCA. Fortunately for us, Pike County has gathered enough signatures on petition to force a vote on the project, delaying precious time.

This could be good news if Adams County wants 300 jobs.

However, due to the time factor, our chances of landing these jobs are significantly decreased if we come to a vote. Another issue can be with infrastructure.

Due to the fact that constructing an onsite sewer system will take so long, it’s important that city sewer is run to the site.

This is doable and we have located outside funding for running the line.

Pure and simple, the faster and more strongly Adams County acts upon and supports CCA, the better our chances of securing the deal.

Due to the GO Zone, we are faced with a terrific economic opportunity, but it’s up to us in Adams County to determine if we want to take advantage of it or not.

I strongly urge anyone who is unsure of the opportunity we have to research these companies thoroughly.

Review their Web sites; call people in the communities they are located; allow these companies to tour you through their facilities.

It’s at least worth doing that much before you sign any petition to block 300 good jobs out of our economy.

Jeff Rowell is the director of the Natchez-Adams County Economic Development Authority.