Year was one of working together

Published 1:02 am Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas has come and gone and now our thoughts focus on the New Year — and reflecting on the year nearing a close.

The year has been an interesting one — and mostly a productive one — for our community.

Two things stand out as key, noteworthy news events in our community the occurred in 2010. Both will have impact long after 2010 is just a memory — if we’re smart enough to keep the initiatives going with our support.

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Interestingly, both involve something that our community has long been criticized as being incapable of doing — working together.

First, while history will be the ultimate judge on its long-term success, 2010 appears to be the year when Natchez and Adams County stepped up and got serious about economic development with the formation of Natchez Inc.

The formation of Natchez Inc. illustrates that logic and common sense can prevail, even when government bumbles up an issue of public interest.

When the county opted to pull funding for the former EDA back in early 2009, local businesses rightfully feared what would happen if no professional effort for growing business existed.

At one point one supervisor said he thought the county’s supervisors could handle the economic development needs of the entire county — by themselves.

These are some of the folks that seemed to struggle with understanding the state’s open meetings law or even managing the county’s own cell phone bill, yet one or two of them actually considered simply managing the county’s own economic development interests.

Thankfully, the business community — led by the chamber of commerce — brought some logic to the table and demanded that our community have a professional economic development team.

That’s smart. While the supervisors may have the common sense to handle economic development issues when they come up, by the nature of their “day jobs” as supervisors, they simply lack the time to do that well.

Fortunately, we now have a new, experienced and professional economic developer who is starting to get the office organized.

A few years from now, with additional business here, we might all look back and say, “Things really got moving in 2010.”

Second, regionalism, long a buzzword, but rarely a reality, took hold and started seeing real progress in 2010.

Early meetings began last year, but in 2010, those formational meetings began getting focused as committees were formed. Each committee focused on a different aspect of our community.

Similar to the economic development work, our community’s regionalism effort shows that our community can work together.

Among the most amazing accomplishments of the regionalism committees is among the most simple, but powerful — bringing people from different walks of life or different business interests to talk with one another.

We all, obviously, have more in common than we have differences.

That’s a powerful lesson that we appear to have learned, at least a little in 2010. Let’s hope we never forget that lesson, instead building on it into the future.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or