Are we moving or wandering?

Published 12:23 am Sunday, December 28, 2008

Passersby on Canal Street can likely hear the collective groan every Tuesday morning, just past 11 a.m.

The subtle moan is heard each time someone on the newspaper’s leadership team is asked to kick off the weekly meeting by reciting our goal.

A quick rolling of the eyes, and then someone breaks the silence and recites:

Email newsletter signup

“Our goal is to become the South’s best community newspaper, exceed our budget and develop our team.”

While the group may laugh at the reason for such a goal, its purpose is clear. That goal can be a clear yardstick against which any and all issues can be measured.

Determining the direction we’re headed becomes clearer as we use that goal as our compass.

All of the stories our newsroom has published in the last week focused on the First Impressions study got me thinking: Does our community have such a goal?

If not, why not?

As we close another calendar year, we’re still facing some of the same problems we’ve faced for years and years.

No recreation plan in place.

No industrial park in place.

No fully supported economic development authority.

No comprehensive plan to replace vital infrastructure problems.

All of these are projects are ones in which we should be getting traction, not just wishes and more talk.

Maybe no one truly cares about any of those.

But, what is it that our community seeks to be?

This isn’t rocket science, and maybe it seems a little too mushy, a little too “self-help” advice for some folks, but it is simple. You can get to your destination faster with a good plan, a good map and a well-defined route.

Without those, you’re really just wandering around.

Wandering is what it seems like has been happening for several years now in Natchez-Adams County.

We seem to be more of a raft floating with the tides than a sailboat being captained in a set direction.

It’s easy to beat up elected officials for being good-for-nothing, let’s just keep things as-is kind of folks.

The reality is that they just have bad bosses. That’s right, a lack of direction in our city reflects a lack of citizen involvement. While it would be nice to think that we elect the best leaders in the community, self-starters who will run things with an entrepreneurial spirit and constantly challenge the status quo, that’s rare.

Without a dynamic leadership team, the community must lead the charge

The community needs to demand that we all create a clearly communicated, common goal.

If you think about other cities in the state of Mississippi a few stand out as being cities that either work together well or have become known for something.

Tupelo is known for being a city that knows how to attract business to town. Their success is well known.

Madison’s strict building requirements have improved property values and attracted business by offering residents a great quality of life.

If you asked other folks in the state what Natchez’s claim to fame is, beyond antebellum houses and perhaps a good river view, they likely won’t have much else to say.

And that’s a little sad, not because antebellum houses or our amazing river view are bad, but because both are status quo. Little new plans appear to be in the works.

If we don’t make a plan to overcome some of our challenges, we’re destined to end 2009 only a few wandering steps ahead of where we end 2008.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or