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East Mississippi can benefit from Nissan plant

By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
July 23, 2001
Even though Lauderdale County has yet to land suppliers for Nissan, a top economic development executive said East Mississippi can still benefit from the Japanese company's auto plant near Canton.
Wade Jones, president of the East Mississippi Business Development Corp., said he wasn't surprised when East Mississippi didn't get any of the first line of Nissan suppliers announced last week.
Nissan Motor Co. is building a $930 million auto plant off Interstate 55 just south of Canton. Nissan and other companies, including suppliers that could build near the plant or in other areas of the state, are expected to generate more than 26,400 jobs.
Giant puzzle
Piecing together an economic development plan might seem time consuming and even a little repetitious. But Jones, who became EMBDC president earlier this year, said his organization needs structure and a vision.
The EMBDC board of directors will meet with the mayors and presidents of the city boards from Meridian and Marion, and the president of the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors Aug. 7 for a strategic planning session.
They plan to discuss such issues as employees and organization, membership needs, government and public affairs, community development and economic development.
Economic development tops everyone's list. But Jones said that, too, needs, structure.
Also, the plan will help avoid duplicating what other groups may be doing.
Forming effective relationships with the news media is an important part of the process, Jones said. "Based on my experience in this job so far over the last few months, The Meridian Star has provided great support to us and we appreciate it," he said. "I appreciate it."
Other sources
While people seem to be focusing on the Nissan plant and new industries, Jones said, existing businesses and industry will create most of the jobs in this area.
Jones said education also will play a role in economic development.
Jones has spent a lot of his time networking with the state and regional economic development groups. "They know we are here," Jones said.
Other issues
Jones also talked about other issues during the interview, including the following:
Industrial park. Jones said getting the new park online "is very high on our priority list. We are working with the local, state and federal government in different areas. It takes time but we are making progress."
Mississippi flag. Jones said that debate during the past year over whether to replace the state flag has been a non-issue when dealing with industrial prospects.
The future. While much of the process is now focused on building a plan for Lauderdale County, Jones said that the EMBDC quickly will become a regional economic development force that will work with neighboring counties as well.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217, or e-mail him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.

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