Iuka seeks to boost town's resources

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

IUKA – Business owners in Iuka are laying the foundation for an intensive push to infuse new energy into the local business community.
A meeting last week included a few dozen people from the businesses, economic development officials, elected officials and a neighboring community’s tourism director.
Seven people elected from the first group to serve as officers and board members are scheduled to meet further to develop bylaws and operational details for the group, said President Charles Emmons, owner of Encore Products.
“Several proposals came out of that last meeting, but we’re in the infancy stage right now,” Emmons said.
The project that drew widespread support for immediate attention is beautification, something that can be tackled immediately and without a lot of expense.
“Some school groups need community service projects and we have a Master Gardeners group that can help us,” Emmons said. “This isn’t something only for downtown, but it includes everybody, and that will make it much more successful.”
In addition to Tishomingo County Development Foundation Executive Director Gary Matthews and Tourism Council representative Theresa Cutshall, the group invited Kristy White, executive director of the Corinth Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, to offer her perspective.
“The most important thing I could do was encourage them to become advocates of their community,” White said. “Mississippi Main Street can help them with some pointers in setting priorities even if they don’t have a formal Main Street program.”
Identifying projects that are short term and those that are long term will be a key to implementing their plans successfully, she said.
White also urged them to think beyond the 3,000 permanent Iuka residents but to consider what they can offer to visitors at the county’s two state parks and nearby lake resorts.
Mississippi Main Street programs emphasize a four-point process, said Jan Miller of Columbus Main Street.
She now handles general information requests for Northeast Mississippi that formerly were handled by the Tupelo office.
She could help the Iuka businesses look at their broader needs: promotions; design, including preservation and restoration; economic restructuring, identifying what downtown mix would make it successful; and organizations.
“There are lots of things we would be able to do to work with them,” Miller said.
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@journalinc.com.