2 months in and Natchez renewal is progressing

Published 6:40 pm Thursday, October 1, 2020

Where does two months go? This week begins our third month in office, and it’s time for a checkup. How is the Natchez Renewal going?

Tourism and Local Business:

Many businesses have now reopened, and many new ones are opening as well. Properties are selling. The Grand Fall Pilgrimage is in full swing, and tour tickets are again being sold at the Visitors Center. It’s exciting to see tourists returning to Natchez, and our restaurants, lodging, and stores all report growing numbers. In addition — Loss Prevention Services is bringing over 200 new jobs to downtown. Truly great things are happening!

Workforce Development:

A Brownfield Grant is in the works, hopefully to provide funding for the first phase of cleanup at the old tire plant. In the meantime, our Job Training Task Force is about to start meeting. Work has already begun to locate a temporary location for Workforce Development while we work on the tire plant. Partners are being put in place, and we will soon seek state and federal funding.

“M.E.D. Natchez”: 

A lot is happening! Natchez Inc. is providing $60,000 to pay for a Medical Market Analysis of our region, soon to be underway. A new rehabilitation clinic has opened, and a new medical clinic is coming to north Natchez, in the old Todd Clinic location. We have met with a number of other medical prospects — interest is growing! Mark it down: Natchez is going to become a Healthcare Hub.

Recreation:

Our plan for renewed recreation has begun. We met this week with officials from Adams County to discuss a new city/county partnership. I am confident that a Sports and Wellness Complex is in our future, a facility that can benefit every age demographic of our community. In addition, we are evaluating the condition of our city parks, and committees are beginning to study possible enhancements to Golf, Tennis and other programs.

Crime:

We have convened a Joint Task Force on Crime, consisting of city officials, the Natchez Chief of Police, and the Adams County Sheriff. Cold case files have been reopened, new investigations are taking place, and a Safe City Task Force will soon begin working to reinstate Crime Stoppers and provide funds for a new reward program.

Unity:

Action, not words, has become our motto. We will soon launch an ambitious beautification of Natchez, addressing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, Devereux Drive, Saint Catherine and Liberty Road. Special attention will be given to long-neglected needs for all of Natchez, especially with regard to north Natchez. And outdoor musical events are beginning this weekend at the bluff.

Fiscal renewal:

We have balanced the budget for Fiscal Year 20/21 with no increase in taxes. We have balanced FY 19/20, again with no increase in taxes. We have saved $443,000 in the city’s health and workers’ compensation insurance. And we are on schedule to catch up on city audits dating back to FY 17/18, saving the city thousands of dollars in grant funds that were about to be recalled.

Natchez — we are on the right track. The Natchez Renewal is working!

Dan Gibson is mayor of Natchez.