Natchez Inc. set to assume EDA work

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 25, 2010

NATCHEZ — After months of planning, Adams County’s new economic development engine — Natchez Inc. — will be born next week.

The private-public partnership is ready to hit the ground running, its leaders told a group of approximately 35 private sector investors Monday.

“Y’all are really the thing that made this happen,” Natchez Inc. Board Chairman Sue Stedman said. “You have been the glue holding this thing together.

On June 1, a new law passed earlier this year will dissolve the existing Natchez-Adams County Economic Development Authority and give permission for local government to join private sector supporters in funding a new non-profit, Natchez Inc.

Private businesses and individuals have pledged nearly $500,000 over the next three years to the project, to date, and fundraising efforts are continuing.

“Without the investors in this room, this whole project would not be taking place,” Natchez Inc. board member Margaret Perkins said.

Stedman told the group of Natchez Now investors that the Natchez Inc. board has been meeting almost weekly.

“And every board member has been present at every meeting,” she said. “It has not gone unnoticed at the state, at MDA (Mississippi Development Authority). They are very encouraged. They are very excited about what we’re doing.”

Board member Pat Biglane echoed Stedman’s sentiment, pointing out that the involvement of and communication with the City of Natchez and Adams County has been key, too.

Natchez Now investors nominate three of the seven Natchez Inc. board members. The city and county each have one selection. The Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce and the Natchez Business and Civic League each fill one of the remaining spots.

Stedman said great thanks are due to volunteers who have helped craft the legislation, create the group’s bylaws and provide accounting services including local businessmen Walter Brown, Robin Punches and Billy Gillon.

“These folks are working without pay, so we thank you for everything,” Stedman said.

In addition, the community owes a great thanks to the current Natchez-Adams EDA board and staff, she said.

They have been “carrying a ball under extremely difficult circumstances.”

Once June 1 arrives, the group’s pace — particularly its public face — will pick up, Stedman said as they work to begin their search for an executive director by June 15. They hope to have their director identified by Oct. 1 and have that person starting in December.

“Great progress has been made, and we’re confident Natchez Inc. will be capable of taking over the EDA’s duties come June 1,” she said.