By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal
Judy Phillips on Friday kicked off a workshop geared at giving leaders ways to create a better Tupelo through new approaches to housing and development.
Phillips, who is a research analyst at Mississippi State University’s Stennis Institute of Government, also unveiled her report that provides a statistical overview of Tupelo and Lee County and their demographics. The 46-page report will be online this week at www.sig.msstate.edu.
Phillips spoke with business reporter Carlie Kollath about her findings.
Q: Your report says 43 percent of Lee County’s housing is in Tupelo. Do you see that changing in the future?
A: That depends on what is done in strategic redevelopment. In 2009 to 2010, we saw the population drop in Tupelo and increase in the county. Projecting into the future, the county is projected to grow. But where it is projected to grow is in question.
It will depend on the availability of quality education, housing and quality of life in the neighborhoods. The city of Tupelo is trying to promote positive development and to create an environment where people want to live. The success of these programs is going to determine where people want to live.
Q: You mentioned in your presentation that Tupelo is in competition with other Northeast Mississippi communities to attract Toyota-related residents. What are Tupelo’s strengths and weaknesses in this race?
A: Strengths: Quality of education. The fact that you are a regional health care center, regional retail center and manufacturing center. You have everything that an individual would seek. Plus, the cost of living is relatively low.
Weakness: I think it really is a matter of affordable, quality housing and comprehensive community design and development. The biggest challenge is a comprehensive commitment to support this strategic redevelopment – changes in zoning, planning and how we plan our development.
Q: Can you give examples of other Mississippi communities of comparable size that have been successful in their housing efforts?
A: That’s a very difficult question. You often get compared with Hernando and Madison. Their growth has been positive, but their growth has been driven by different factors.
Madison’s, by economic outflight; Hernando has grown because it’s a bedroom community to Memphis.
You have to be careful about comparing these communities to Tupelo because you have a significantly different situation. Be cautious about making those comparisons.