Key to tourism and local business recovery

Published 8:28 pm Thursday, August 20, 2020

Four weeks into the job — and we are working our Natchez Renewal Plan. It’s exciting to be in a position where we can put our plan into action.

Every day, we have been working on the six points: Help Tourism and Local Business Recover; Create a Vocational Training Center; Implement MED Natchez; Renew Recreational Programs; Fight Crime; Build Unity. In addition to this, we have been busy working on the city budget — it has to be balanced and complete by the end of September.

The first step in our plan, to Help Tourism and Local Business Recover, is being implemented by the formation of several task forces: Task Force on Tourism Ingenuity and Diversity — explore ways for Natchez to achieve greater success by broadening our tourism strategies.

Task Force on Downtown Development — identify key strategies to aggressively promote and develop a vibrant city. Task Force on Fiber Expansion — ensure the availability of superfast internet. Task Force on ADA Compliance — addressing handicapped accessibility in Natchez, with an emphasis on our downtown area and public buildings.

Tourism Ingenuity and Diversity says it all. For many years, tourism has long been our No. 1 industry, creating thousands of jobs and pumping millions into our local economy. We would be lost without it. But Natchez can do better than we’ve been doing.

Our strategies in this area have been fractured and limited. We have multiple organizations competing with each other to accomplish the same goals, and we have an untapped potential for diversity — tour experiences that include our African history and the promotion of “family-friendly” attractions and recreational offerings. I am hopeful that the task force we are appointing can address these issues and help bring a unified effort to build and promote more in Natchez tourism.

Downtown Development is a key component in this process. A Smart Town never abandons its core. To the contrary it steadily builds it. Since taking office, we have been visiting with many downtown partners to identify the best strategies for bringing back a robust downtown — and the possibilities are endless.

In the very near future, we will be rolling out proposals for signage, tax abatements and city improvements that will make a tremendous difference. We will be developing music and arts districts, including a major improvement in the Main Street, Commerce Street and Franklin Street areas.

We will also be exploring ways to better promote “Natchez Under the Hill”, and yes — we are addressing The Eola. In addition, our Task Forces on Fiber and ADA Compliance will be exploring ways to bring Natchez up to speed so we can capitalize on new opportunities for growth in the Post-Covid economy.

All of this will require innovative, “outside the box” thinking — and I believe Natchez is up to the task. We invite all who would like to take part in this. Reach out to us. We need your help! Natchez Deserves More. 

Dan M. Gibson is the Mayor of Natchez.