Time to spread the good news

Published 4:00 pm Sunday, June 26, 2022

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Over the past few days, I have been asked for my thoughts on what some are calling a pending national recession. Certainly, to see inflation soaring to above 8 percent for the first time in many years is concerning. On top of that, paying $5 per gallon at the pump does not bode well for anyone.

Over my life’s journey, however, I have learned to look past the challenges and identify the opportunities. And Natchez, we have great opportunities. Time to spread the good news!

Reflecting on how we as a community overcame the covid pandemic, we have every reason to be optimistic. While other cities were closed, we remained open, responsibly, and we began finding ways to market ourselves to those seeking a safe haven. Tourism soared, home sales boomed, and we welcomed many new residents and businesses into our community. Not even knowing we were being evaluated, Forbes Magazine named Natchez one of the “Safest Places to Visit During a Pandemic”. Officials in the Mississippi Development Authority dubbed us “One of Mississippi’s Fastest Growing Economies”, and our growth continues even now.

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If we fared so well during a national pandemic Natchez, we can fare well through anything. And with so many great things happening and still on the horizon, these are great times to be in the Bluff City.

“America’s Most Affordable City” – During recession times, this is exactly what a city wants to be known as, and in Natchez we can claim it! In late 2021, Stanford University economist Rebecca Diamond and UC Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti completed a four-year study of the daily finances of a pool of three million Americans from all across our country. Their goal: to identify the most affordable places to live. According to a December 2021 article in NPR’s Planet Money newsletter, Natchez topped the list, followed by Gallup, NM, Summersville, W.Va., Graham, TX, and Marquette, MI. Sounds like opportunity to me.

When considering gas prices, what better place than Natchez is there to live where a commute to work may be walkable or under ten minutes? And when considering inflation that is currently hitting larger cities the hardest, what better haven than Natchez which is known to be less influenced by national economic trends?

Our reputation as a leading tourism destination presents another very unique opportunity: when compared to other leading tourism destinations, Natchez comes up as being more affordable every time. And with our convenient location to millions of people within a short “drive distance”, we are a best bet for those still wanting to travel but not wanting to travel too far. We should be spreading the good news!

Lastly, Natchez now has a great opportunity to attract even more remote workers and new businesses into our economy. We have already seen this during the pandemic when large cities quickly began losing their luster. The rising cost of living in other areas all across America will drive more and more people to look elsewhere for a new place to live and work. We need to make sure Natchez is on that list.

In coming weeks, get ready to hear more about the continuing Natchez Renewal, and how we intend to spread the good news about our affordable, beautiful city all across America. Because when it comes to economic growth, and creating opportunity during challenging times, Natchez Deserves More.

Dan M. Gibson is mayor of Natchez.