It’s great to see Regionalism at work

Published 12:11 am Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Something great happened last week in Natchez — a group of diverse individuals rallied together for a common cause.

On its face, each party had something to gain out of being at the meeting. But collectively, the good of the community outweighed any of the potential individual gains.

Each side shared a little information — some of it confidential business information — for the good of the group.

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The subject of the day was what could our communities do to ensure that the lone railroad line that connects Natchez, Adams County and Franklin County to the rest of the world stays open.

What brought folks together was regionalism at its core — working together toward a common goal.

And, just like most true economic development — and most job creation, too — it started in the private sector. Businesses who use the railroad are upset over what they view as ever-increasing fees. The fees, some of customers and community leaders say, amount to “highway robbery” on the part of the railroad’s owners.

Those critics argue the railroad owners are attempting to run up prices to chase away business that will eventually make it easier for them to scrap the entire line.

Doing that would greatly stifle any plans for heavy industry in the area — many of which will either use rail or want the flexibility to use it.

We were excited by the turnout for the meeting last week. We were excited that the groups were willing to come together and we were excited that regionalism seems to be taking shape.

And that’s great news, for the railroad issue and dozens more like it.

Together, we’re a powerful force of change and influence, but we’re only as good as our willingness to join hands.