Fish are biting big in Miss-Lou

Published 2:03 pm Thursday, June 14, 2007

In economic development circles, “big fish” stories are the stuff of dreams. Decades ago, these were the heavy industrial plants, paper mills, refineries and such.

Today most of those “fish” come in the form of auto plants the arrival of which are making parts of the South seem like 1960s Detroit.

Few of the economic development “fishermen” who are working to lure these big animals into communities actually ever get close enough to such a project to see it, let alone have an opportunity to set a hook in one.

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The bread and butter of true, ground floor economic development projects are just regular, run-of-the-mill “catfish” projects.

Often these overlooked projects are much more important than a big fish. In recent months three local businesses have announced major expansions — Delta BioFuels, Energy Drilling and Callon Petroleum.

Within the last year, Delta BioFuels has purchased the former Ethyl Petroleum Additives plant, retooled it for the creation of biodiesel and this week announced a strategic partnership with a national energy marketer Aventine Renewable Energy.

Energy Drilling spent a chunk of money last year for new drilling rig, the implementation of which has already created new jobs and puts the company in a position to do more.

And earlier this year Callon secured the purchase of a large oil and gas exploration field in the Gulf of Mexico, a move which analysts think sets Callon up for substantial growth in the future.

Sure, these may not be “big fish” in the grand sense of the word, but we’ll take a mess of good-eating “catfish” businesses any day.