CDF board outlines goals for next year

images-7By Dennis Seid
Daily Journal

TUPELO – “More and better jobs” is a credo taken seriously by the Community Development Foundation, and the economic development arm for Tupelo and Lee County will continue to work on that key mission in the next year.

The CDF’s annual board planning meeting was held Tuesday at the organization’s downtown building.

“Each division – the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development and Planning – puts forward its goals, and the board discusses and adopts them for the year,” said CDF President and CEO David Rumbarger.

Among the Chamber’s goals are increasing membership to 1,200 members, developing and launching a comprehensive relocation package, and launching a new event format to balance networking and informational opportunities.

The Economic Development Division’s goals include creating $16 million in new payroll from job creation, creating $40 million in new capital investment, locating nine new companies in the Renasant Center for IDEAs business incubator and implementing two enhanced and/or new K-12 workforce skills programs.

The Planning Division’s goals include finishing a comprehensive growth plan for an unnamed Lee County community and constructing a new shell building after the completion of the shell building in the Tupelo Lee Industrial Park South.

Rumbarger said the CDF’s focus also will turn to quality of life, as companies seek to find and recruit more workers.

“In the past we just recruited a company and let the companies find the workers,” Rumbarger said. “Now they’re coming to us and asking if we can find them people. They’re concerned because the number of skilled workers are tight across the country.”

And sometimes that means the CDF must look to recruit from outside the state and region, so improving the quality of life and highlighting the strengths of the community become a part of that recruitment effort.

“We’re still having to overcome the persona of old Mississippi,” Rumbarger said.

But it’s an image problem that is soon overcome after potential employees visit, he added.