Clay, Lowndes economic groups form alliance

By NEMS Daily Journal

The economic development organizations representing Clay and Lowndes counties announced an alliance on Friday, with hopes of fostering stronger economic ties in the Golden Triangle.
The Columbus Lowndes Development LINK established a three-year formal affiliation with the West Point Clay County Community Growth Alliance, in which LINK will staff the West Point office.
John Bradley, senior vice president of economic development for the Tennessee Valley Authority, praised the move.
“TVA applauds the Columbus Lowndes Development LINK and Clay County’s comprehensive regional strategy of working together to promote their communities,” he said in a news release. “The area’s track record of $4.4 billion invested and 5,600 jobs created over the past five years is very impressive, and cooperative efforts will make the area’s economic development opportunities and benefits even greater.”
In recent years, the LINK has successfully recruited large economic projects such as the Severstal steel mill, American Eurocopter, KIOR, Stark Aerospace, Aurora Flight Sciences, PACCAR and Calisolar.
LINK board president Jim McAlexander said, “It is a natural fit since our economies are intertwined.”
The process to form the alliance began after the Growth Alliance’s executive director announced his resignation in late September. The organization’s executive board spoke to representatives of TVA, Mississippi Development Authority, the LINK and North Mississippi Industrial Development Authority to talk about the direction the Growth Alliance should take.
“The LINK has had the kind of success that we want our county to experience,” said Jackie Edwards, president of the Growth Alliance board. “We decided that with their proven track record and the similarities between our two communities, we should make a proposal to join forces instead of searching for a new executive director.”
“Clay County has some of the best infrastructure in the entire Tennessee Valley,” said Joe Max Higgins, executive director of the LINK. “The types of companies that will be interested in Clay County will be energy and capital intensive – offering the kinds of jobs that are highly technical and well-paying.”
The alliance will be in affect for at least three years, with West Point and Clay County contributing one-quarter of the new alliance’s funding. The Growth Alliance will continue to be the chamber of commerce for West Point and Clay County.