See the future in that pile of dirt

Published 12:01 am Thursday, September 20, 2012

In two years, Adams County has gone from being out of the economic development game to now being fully engaged and immersed in the process.

The speed of that process — and the number of zeroes behind the checks being written — is enough to leave a citizen’s head spinning.

This week county supervisors agreed to borrow up to $7.5 million for what amounts to a pile of dirt.

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Critics, no doubt, will cry foul over this move and question every nuance of it.

The dirt in question, however, is critical to development of a $350 million alternative fuels production facility in Natchez. It will build a protective levee for what could become our area’s next major industry.

For several years, the area’s most primed site for development — the former Belwood County Club location — was listed with a small, but important, asterisk next to its name.

Reading the footnote would have been enough to send most investors headed for higher ground.

You see, the asterisk pointed to a simple fact — one that made golf unpredictable at the site — “floods when the Mississippi River gets a little high (which typically happens each year).”

While it takes a bit of nerve to get comfortable with the idea of spending money on dirt for someone else’s project, the benefits for Natchez-Adams County could be huge in terms of hundreds of jobs, increased tax base, etc.

Even if the KiOR plant is a bust, at least the county will wind up with a piece of land that’s protected and developable.

That’s something we’ve needed for a long, long time. Ditto for politicians with a little vision and some guts to put some money on the table.