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Natchez is a great place to be at this time

Natchez has a lot of good things going for it recently.

Our hometown band, Bishop Gunn, recently returned from a European Tour to play a concert at their second annual crawfish boil and brought a huge crop of fans with them from all over the world.

Then, Bishop Gunn announced they would be opening for The Rolling Stones in Houston next month.

That’s great news for a hometown band that started by performing at the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race a few years ago, and became a staple of the local music scene, playing regularly at Smoot’s Grocery and the Under-the-Hill Saloon — both world-class venues.

Bishop Gunn later moved on to Nashville, and found great success around the world and brought fame to their hometown by naming there debut album “Natchez.”

Natchez also recently finished in the Top 10 for the second straight year of Best Small Historic Towns in the Nation poll conducted by USA Today.

Viking Cruise Lines recently announced it plans to build a port in Natchez to accommodate new cruises the company plans to offer along the Mississippi River.

A major motion picture filmed here last year, “Ma,” is in theaters and another major film is in production in the city now.

Film executives say at least five more major films are scheduled for production in Natchez next year as the historic mansion Dunleith will be used partially as a film production studio when Louisiana film producer Jake Seal closes on the purchase of the mansion.

Combine that with Tate Taylor and John Norris producing films in the area and Natchez is looking at a $30 million influx to the local economy next year alone and plans are in the works to make the film industry a mainstay of the local economy.

Several industries also are doing well — Great River Industries is expanding operations at the Natchez Port.

Delta Energy is preparing to start recycling tires.

Vidalia Denim Mills is nearing completion of the retooling of the old Fruit of the Loom plant and will soon be hiring.

And, Syrah Technologies is soon to be in production of spherical graphite to be used in the automotive battery industry.

Sure, Natchez and the Miss-Lou have had a rough few years economically, but slow and steady wins the race, as the city has been working for years on some of these projects that are finally coming to fruition.

Hopefully, the new business developments will help offset the possible shutdown of the Adams County Correctional Facility that recently lost a Federal Bureau of Prisons contract that ends next month.

Perhaps, many of the prison workers who may be laid off will find positions in one of those other industries, if the prison’s owner, Core Civic cannot land a new contract for the facility.

Meanwhile, the reputation cultivated by Bishop Gunn, the movie industry and Natchez’s historic houses and buildings hopefully will attract more tourists to the area.

All of that combined makes it a great time to be in Natchez.

I can’t wait to see how it all works out. If I were a betting man, I would bet it will work out pretty good.

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or scott.hawkins@natchezdemocrat.com.