By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
CORINTH – Progressive things are happening in Alcorn County and Wednesday’s Existing Industry Appreciation Luncheon highlighted some of those ventures.
Blake Wilson, president of the Mississippi Economic Council – Mississippi’s chamber of commerce – as keynote speaker said sometimes an outsider’s perspective helps a community see its assets and successes more clearly.
“You’re stepping up and stepping out, taking a leadership role,” Wilson told the group of more than 100 business, industry, government and community leaders.
Wilson highlighted two areas, in particular, where Alcorn County is making great strides.
One of the event sponsors, Magnolia Regional Health Center, is an example of how much of an economic driver health care has become in Mississippi, Wilson said.
“The hospital as a rural hospital leader has made an impact,” he said. “You have taken leaps and bounds strides with Magnolia Regional Health Center and seized this day, with (CEO Rick Napper) and his team taking the lead.”
Another example, he said, is the website for the TAP Alliance – the economic development collaboration of Tishomingo, Alcorn and Prentiss counties. Wilson described it as a way to shrink distances between economic development recruiters and prospects that effectively represents opportunities available in the tri-county area.
He congratulated Gary Chandler, president of the Alliance, for the significant contributions he and his staff have made to the TAP Alliance’s work. Results for the tri-county alliance in terms of attracting a major industry may not come right away, but each step brings the rewards closer, he said.
Mississippians need to be cheerleaders for the state, Wilson said. He noted that on the American Legislative Exchange Council’s annual competitiveness index, Mississippi had moved from 19th place out of 50 states in 2010 to 15th in 2011 and 10th in 2012.
Additionally, Blueprint Mississippi, which compares how Mississippi stacks up against other states in the southeast region, shows Mississippi ranks third among states that include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
“What’s next?” Wilson asked. “Only our imaginations are limiting us.”