TAP ready to pursue economic projects

The newly formed TAP Alliance is ready to take the next step toward creating better economic development opportunities for its three member counties.
TAP represents Tippah, Alcorn and Prentiss counties. Each county’s Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to work together and with the Mississippi Development Authority to recruit prospective industries.
“We’re planning for the future,” said Mike Huddleston, president of the Prentiss County board. “One county standing on its own, it’s hard to get major industry.”
Booneville’s leaders also have expressed an interest in becoming part of the group.
Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties found success with the same strategy when the PUL Alliance attracted the Toyota manufacturing plant to the area.
The Mississippi Development Authority strongly supports such coalitions, said Executive Director Gray Swoope.
“From our perspective, we believe any alliance with those counties talking and exploring working together, the state wants to help with that,” Swoope said. “We need to drop boundaries of cities and counties for the best economic benefit, and that fits right in with our strategy.”
No further meeting has been scheduled for the TAP Alliance since the three bodies voted to form the coalition, but Alcorn County’s board president, Gary Ross, said he believes they will get together in May.
“We’re looking to pool our funds together and make a financial commitment for each county to help all, no matter where it might be,” Ross said. “We hadn’t set a dollar figure on it yet.”
Northeast Mississippi Planning and Development District is providing technical assistance to establish the alliance.
Preliminary discussions indicate that the alliance would have a nine-member board with two representatives from each county and a representative from the largest municipality in each county, Huddleston said.
Financial benefit may result if the alliance can obtain state certification through MDA. The PUL Alliance was able to attract $250,000 of state funds as seed money when they formed, while each of their counties contributed $30,000.
“This isn’t all going to happen quickly,” Huddleston said, “but it’s something we need to do to move toward the future.”
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.

Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal