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Grow Meridian Team to present recommendations

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
March 28, 2001
Members of the Grow Meridian Team have almost completed their fact-finding work designed to develop solutions to the city's declining population.
Mayor John Robert Smith formed the 15-member team in November to address a declining population and shrinking tax base that was expected to be revealed when Census 2000 statistics were released. Census numbers released earlier this month confirmed city officials' fears, showing that Meridian lost almost 1,100 citizens between 1990 and 2000.
With the recent news the city might face a budget shortfall of around $700,000 this year, the team's recommendations for growing the tax base could become crucial.
Crawford's said his team has gathered information to make recommendations that can initiate new growth.
Shortly after the formation of the team, residents were invited to write letters outlining what problems they believed the city should address, although Crawford declined to tell The Meridian Star how many responses the group received.
Crawford also declined to give specifics of what the team will recommend to city leaders when it presents its findings sometime at the beginning of April.
Crawford said Mississippi State University helped the group collect data by conducting a population density survey and convening a focus group to garner even more community input.
The team also brought in several groups from around the community in order to get a more neutral perspective on the city's image.
While some of the issues raised during the team's fact-finding process have been surprising, Crawford said other issues weren't as much a mystery to team members.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.