EDITORIAL: TAP the potential

A bold step by Boards of Supervisors in Tishomingo, Alcorn and Prentiss counties could become a strong factor early in the economic recovery that’s projected by many to begin late in 2009.
The TAP alliance, as the not-yet-fleshed-out agreement is being called, reflects in part the process and structure used by the successful PUL Alliance – Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties – which worked as partners to attract the Toyota plant to the Wellspring site near Blue Springs.
Agreements approved by the three county boards seek strength and resources in unity, a dramatic role change from historic competition among political jurisdictions, usually all seeking to attract the same or similar economic development and good jobs.
The PUL Alliance contributed equally to the start-up costs for organizational, legal and promotional expenses, and they applied together for a $250,000 grant from the Mississippi Development Authority, which became a working partner in the long-term goal of attracting a mega-industry to the site.
The 2007 announcement of Toyota’s choosing Wellspring was the culmination of six years’ work – public policy development in the counties and cities of the region, in the Legislature – and in confidential recruitment and negotiations that became the best-kept secret in decades.
Economic development organizations in the three PUL Alliance counties set aside competition in quest of the right industry for the Wellspring site. When Toyota production begins, after a recession-related delay – all three counties stand to make major economic gains for the long term.
Tishomingo, Alcorn and Prentiss counties, like the PUL counties, offer distinctive economic development assets, including proximity to major water transport (the Tenn-Tom Waterway and Tennessee River), four-lane highways, a thriving community college with jobs training, and proximity to several major public recreation areas.
Toyota officials said the unity of the PUL Alliance attracted their attention early in the evaluation process because it is unusual and advantageous to make artificial political boundaries of secondary importance to growth.
Regionalism has existed for a long time, but it has too often been limited or hindered by stubborn political considerations. Now, richly networked affiliations attract increasing attention – and investment.
We believe TAP can develop that potential into quantifiable results – and prosperity.
The challenge of rebuilding manufacturing sectors, diminished across the United States by market issues, movement offshore to cheaper labor and lower overhead, becomes an opportunity when developers have a plan and necessary resources.
Every job in our region is valued, and the diversity of the jobs market must expanded dramatically to keep pace with other aggressive and successful coalition efforts.

 

NEMS Daily Journal