Entergy sponsors growth workshop

Published 6:04 pm Saturday, April 5, 2008

NATCHEZ — Economic developers, elected officials and community leaders from around the state recently graduated from “Site Selection Boot Camp,” an intensive one-day workshop sponsored by Entergy Mississippi, Inc. and Strategic Growth Institute.

The inaugural program focused on how to effectively market communities to industrial prospects. Participants included representatives from Adams, Copiah, Grenada, Montgomery, Pike, Tate, Washington and Warren counties, the Greater Jackson Alliance and Mississippi Development Authority.

“This Boot Camp is part of Entergy Mississippi’s ongoing effort to educate community leaders about the site selection process so they can improve their recruiting and marketing programs,” said Stephen Caruthers, customer service manager for Entergy Mississippi in Natchez. “We want them to win projects, earn business and be successful.”

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Those attending took part in interactive presentations that showed how companies and consultants make site selection decisions. They also learned how to write effective responses to RFIs, or requests for information — a critical step that helps companies identify high-potential communities.

“Being able to bring other community leaders to the workshop gave them an opportunity to learn about the RFI process so we can become more involved in the response efforts,” said Winnie Kaiser, community development director for the Natchez-Adams County Development Authority. “Boot Camp was an educational experience for all of us.”

Boot Camp trainees were also asked to develop responses to a mock RFI for a manufacturing plant that would create 100 new jobs. They then met one-on-one with experienced site selection consultants to review critiques of their responses and identify areas for improvement.

“Getting direct feedback helped us learn what the consultants are trying to accomplish for their clients,” Kaiser said. “For them, selecting the best response to an RFI is a process of elimination, so our job is to make sure that our responses conform to what they are looking for.”

Entergy Mississippi works with more than 20 communities throughout the year on various industrial recruitment and economic development projects. Positive feedback about the Boot Camp shows that community leaders are serious about the recruiting process and improving their chances to win big projects, Caruthers said.

“We are very pleased with the response to our first Boot Camp, and will continue to offer programs and training to help our communities be more competitive,” Caruthers said. “They are fast learners and have already made significant improvements in their recruiting programs, which tells us that these training and networking opportunities definitely add value to their efforts.”