Senate OK’s new EDA, House next

Published 12:30 am Wednesday, March 24, 2010

NATCHEZ — A bill to help reconstruct Natchez-Adams County’s economic development engine cleared the Senate Tuesday and is now headed across the capitol building for consideration by the House.

Senate Bill 3174, authored by local Sens. Bob M. Dearing and Kelvin Butler, received its required two-thirds approval with a vote Tuesday.

“Sen. Butler brought it up along with several other local and private bills, and no one asked any questions, so it just sailed right on through,” Dearing said. “Hopefully it will have smooth sailing through the House.”

A companion bill, House Bill 1686 is awaiting passage in the House’s Local and Private Committee before heading for a floor vote in that chamber.

Both bills call for the dissolution of the current Natchez-Adams County Economic Development Authority and authorize the City of Natchez and Adams County to contribute to a newly formed non-profit entity, Natchez Inc.

The law authorizes Adams County to contribute up to $165,000 annually and the City of Natchez $100,000 annually.

In addition, all current assets of the existing EDA would become property of the Natchez Inc. non-profit.

If the bill becomes law, Natchez, Inc. will become the community’s economic development entity on June 1.

In addition to the public funding outlined in the bill, the private sector will play a large role in the future of Natchez, Inc.

A private funding non-profit group, called Natchez Now, is being formed simultaneously with Natchez, Inc.

Natchez Now has received private financial commitments from local businesses of more than $457,500 — $152,500 each year for the next three years — from nearly 60 local businesses and citizens.

Their fundraising efforts are continuing.