MDA representative offers help to local community leaders during breakfast

The Mississippi Development Authority may be situated in Jackson but help for starting or growing industries is closer than that, as those attending the Union County Development Association CEO and GM breakfast learned Thursday.

The speaker was Vaunita Sullivan Martin, of Eggville, who is the Regional Director for the MDA. Her office is in Tupelo.

“Because it’s a long way to Jackson,” she said. “My job here is to help you.  Bottom line.”

“We have three goals: more jobs, better jobs and new jobs,” Martin said.

Martin may be familiar to some here because she has helped with various projects including the asset mapping a couple of years ago.

“Assets are the first thing an industry or business looks at,” she said.

Rather than listing specific services MDA can offer she described a range of overall concepts.

“We bring a vision of where you are at,” she said. “Then you figure out where you want to go and develop a road map to get there.”

Martin also encouraged the business leaders to think beyond local boundaries.

“We have an international trade group, work with imports and exports, have a trade show and event schedule,” for instance, she said. If a business wants to deal with international companies, MDA can help set up a visit, translate a brochure, provide an interpreter and in some cases pay for half the cost, she said.

MDA can provide other help with the assistance of the National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center at Mississippi State University, or nSPARC as well.

“They help us keep our eye on the pulse, to see if we need to add or change a program,” she said. And all participant information is confidential other than being combined for graph form.

“If you are looking to do expansion, call us,” she said. “We don’t want you to miss out on funds.” Funding may depend on factors such as how long you have been in business, how much you are willing to put into it and what your business looks like long-term, but you probably can get help.

“If you have issues, don’t hesitate to call,” Martin concluded.

The series of breakfast programs is sponsored by the Union County Development Association for company CEOs and managers on the second Thursday of each month. Programs begin at 7:15 and are over by 8 a.m., usually on topics dealing with employment and training issues.

UCDA Executive Director Phil Nanney said the program in March will be presented by the North Mississippi Industrial Development Association, who goal is to help North Mississippi businesses and industries develop new sites or expand existing operations. The organization is funded by the Tennessee Valley Authority and other electrical power distributors in the region.