Positive story predates negative end

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bad news is neither welcome nor does it ever come at an ideal time.

Our community received bad news last week with the announcement that the Bad Boy Buggies production facility will move to Georgia, taking with it approximately 60 jobs.

The departure of the business isn’t good for our economy and it will certainly put significant economic pressure and stress on the families of the affected workers.

Email newsletter signup

However, the Bad Boy Buggies story is worth noting, not for what is being lost, but for what was created in the business’ time here.

First, the story is one of good, old-fashioned American ingenuity. Locals founded the company after seeing a need for a vehicle to get hunters deeper into the woods without making much noise.

Enter the all-electric, four-wheel drive vehicle.

Add in a fantastic name that completely described the product and appealed to its likely buyer and the deal was bound to be a hit.

Obviously much work went into turning that brand from a homegrown novelty to a national success.

Ownership changed through the years, but remained mostly — at least as far as I know — in the hands of local businessmen.

The Bad Boy Buggy brand was created, marketed and launched into the national spotlight by Natchez folks.

That’s pretty cool and should illustrate to us all what is actually possible here in the Miss-Lou.

Although the facility will certainly be missed, it created dozens of jobs for many years and that will forever be appreciated.

Beyond that, the owners who sold it, I would guess, made a healthy profit for the risks they took when purchasing the business.

Since the primary owners are long-time residents, it’s logical to think that money will remain in our community and could be reinvested in our community one day soon.

As far as I’ve heard, Bad Boy Buggies grew exponentially with little to no help from any city, county or state agency, though all tried in the end to offer incentives to the new buyer, E-Z-Go, to stay in the area.

Their story shows what’s possible with hard work, a good idea and an entrepreneurial spirit.

Similar entrepreneurs must exist in our community with a new idea that’s just as good or better than the Bad Boys concept.

Natchez and the rest of the Miss-Lou have some very intelligent, creative people as residents.

But we must ask: What can we as a community do to foster more of those ideas and more of those dreamers?

At one time, the City of Natchez had a business incubator inside Margaret Martin School, essentially giving away space for new businesses in hopes they’d become hits.

Nothing seems to have come from it in recent years and asking around a bit, no one is sure if it’s even an active program any more.

A revitalized interest in community and economic development indicate that this might be a perfect time to reestablish such an endeavor, particularly if the ideas fostered inside can yield the next Bad Boy Buggies.

City, county and business leaders would be wise to consider how that might be accomplished — and funded — in the next year.

If done well, Natchez could start hatching all kinds of new businesses.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.