Community has reason to be positive

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 15, 2009

As the clouds of negativity and the rains of incessant squabbling circle Natchez and Adams County, a ray of sunshine is peeking over.

Have you noticed?

Months have gone by as the practically defunct Adams County Economic Development Authority sits without a director and without the promise of government money needed to hire that director.

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It seems obvious that a handful of local elected leaders are dead set on ensuring that the EDA doesn’t breathe another breath.

And though the sails behind the idea of a recreation complex have a little wind at the moment, its easy for locals to have the “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude about recreation after years of politics and failures.

With no recent news from Rentech, and no magical car plant on the way, development isn’t something residents await with bated breath.

Many elected officials and many residents have become — or, you may argue, always have been — a ball of negativity.

The community has baggage.

Just like in a failing marriage, Adams County is throwing hair dryers, mouthing off and acting irrationally.

The last stop before divorce court — counseling.

Enter the sun.

Whether anyone has noticed or not, the Concordia Parish Economic and Industrial Development District and a few members of the private sector are moving pieces into place for a change that will radiate across the river in both directions.

Under the leadership of a sharp, young and enthusiastic director, Heather Malone, the board has the right idea and seems intent on plowing forward.

Malone and crew spearheaded — with help from Natchez-Adams County Chamber Director Debbie Hudson and the Ferriday and Vidalia chambers — a June meeting that was, to say the least, rare.

City, county and parish leaders, businessmen and residents from Ferriday to Fenwick gathered in the same room to consider the idea of regionalism.

An outside expert told everyone present that to succeed in the big world, we’d have to market ourselves as a region.

The meeting ended, everyone went back to his or her respective corners of the Miss-Lou and change didn’t come overnight.

But that’s what Malone and the Concordia Parish Economic and Industrial Development District expected.

When their group met this month, the topic was again a main point of discussion. Malone’s message was simple; moving forward is going to take small steps.

“We will have to have more discussions,” she said. “We can’t throw it in someone’s face and say, ‘This is what we are doing.’”

First, comes the counseling.

Everyone will have to let the negativity out, air his or her grievances. Cry. Scream. Throw things. (Figuratively, we hope.)

Some folks will lose. Some folks won’t be a part of the future of the Miss-Lou.

Others will decide to shed their egos and play on the team.

Then, the work can begin.

Does the parish economic development group have the magic answer? No. Will we see change anytime soon? Probably not.

But this group, combined with local business leaders, does have the foresight to make long-term changes in the lives of everyone in the Miss-Lou.

This group is positive, not negative. They are sun, not rain.

Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or