More jobs will lead to retail here

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Members of the Natchez Board of Aldermen summoned Chandler Russ, executive director of Natchez Inc., to a special board meeting Monday afternoon.

The crux of that meeting is the city wants Natchez Inc. to recruit new retailers to Natchez.

Many residents would love that. Applebees. Whole Foods. Starbucks. Dillards. Target. Who wouldn’t love one of those businesses to locate in Natchez?

Email newsletter signup

However, those retailers — and few others — are going to take much of a look at locating in Natchez as long as our population continues to decline.

Why is our population declining? Because in the last decade or so, good-paying jobs once found here have moved elsewhere.

What would turn around that trend? Good paying jobs.

Finding, recruiting and retaining industry and manufacturing jobs to Natchez are primary focuses of Natchez Inc., and that’s where its attention should stay.

In a story in our newspaper a few weeks ago about what to do about our city’s blighted property situation, Glenn Green of Paul Green and Associates said only one thing will make a difference here: A growing population of employed people.

Dan Dillard, who at last night’s meeting asked Russ and others at Natchez Inc. to hire an assistant director to focus on retail development, said he’s all for jobs, too, but the question of whether to recruit retailers or manufacturers was kind of a question of which comes first, the chicken or the egg.

No, it’s not.

Jobs must be first. And we need a lot of them to overcome the losses of the last two decades.That is Natchez Inc.’s focus and that should continue to be its focus. We hope the city’s leaders can understand and appreciate that and not attempt to dilute the mission or reduce the city’s monetary support.

Recruit new manufacturers to Natchez, and retailers will follow. Any effort prior to that is futile.