By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Mayor Rex Smith told Saltillo’s city employees he enjoyed his first day in office while in an informal department head meeting Tuesday morning.
After one day in office, Smith was full of ideas about how he, as a land surveyor, could try to help the city move forward. At the forefront is attracting businesses.
“Over the years at Barnes Crossing, doing what I do, I have met a lot of developers,” Smith said. “I have a connection with some of them and I want to talk to some to see what the interest is in matching up a developer with a landowner.”
He said he wants to look back on his time in office and be able to say, “wow,” about something the city accomplished. Bringing a large retailer that would generate traffic into the city, shopping opportunities for residents and sales tax revenue is just that.
“The pipe dreams you have are Target and Bass Pro Shop but it doesn’t matter what it is,” he said. “It could be a Gander Mountain or other big box sporting goods store. I would love to see us get a hotel and a sit-down restaurant that is maybe a national chain.”
Smith said attracting those sorts of businesses will help the city develop Highway 145 and bridge Saltillo and Tupelo. He said he also hopes to get lights put up along Highway 45 so people can see the restaurants from the highway and stop for dinner or gas.
“You also always want to see your local people succeed,” he said. “We have several restaurants here and room for more. I would love to see something move into downtown. I want to talk with the property owners downtown to see if we can get a restaurant thriving down here.”
Increased residential development is also on Smith’s to-do list but he said he would rather rely on sales tax than property tax.
City officials, along with the Saltillo Board of Aldermen, have been working to acquire the water system at Turner Industrial Park, a project Smith said he wants to see completed soon.
He also said he hopes to resolve the issue of the two suspended police officers in the city’s department as soon as possible.