Economy picking up, Hernando mayor says

By The Associated Press

HERNANDO, Miss. (AP) — Mayor Chip Johnson said all indicators are pointing to an economic turnaround in the DeSoto County community.

In his state-of-the-city address earlier this week, the mayor said housing starts, new subdivisions and sales tax collections all are pointing up.

There were 75 single-family building permits issued in fiscal 2011, but for the 2012 fiscal year that ended Oct. 1 they surged to 127, the mayor told a gathering of about 200 business leaders.

Sales taxes showed an increase of about 4 percent, The Commercial Appeal reports (http://bit.ly/VCBL5j ).

“The overall message is Hernando is coming out of the recession,” Johnson said.

“As to sales tax, this fiscal year it was $2,726,591, a 4.07 increase over the previous year and about dead even with the rate we posted pre-recession in 2007,” said Johnson. “If we’d been able to collect sales tax on Internet sales, we’d be way above that.”

The Republican mayor was first elected in 2005 and plans to seek a third four-year term next year.

In his overview of the area’s economy, he cited plans by Hernando Hotel Development Group to build a $5.8 million, 82-room Hampton Inn with construction starting east of Interstate 55 along McIngvale Road early next year. Meanwhile, several subdivisions are nearing completion or filling lots “at a healthy clip,” including Magnolia Commons, Vaiden Ridge, Charleston Rowe, Laurelwood, Robertson Place, Montclaire, St. Ives and Jefferson Estates.

“We’ve been building a great city year by year, and people are starting to notice,” said Johnson. “I think we’re about to boom again.”

Johnson added, “We have a label that proclaims us as ‘Mississippi’s Front Porch,’ but if I have a slogan for the city this year, I’d say it’s this: Hernando is open for business.”