An effort is under way to develop a vision for Neshoba County and that vision most certainly should include more and higher-paying jobs.
A more educated workforce — meaning simply that more of our people can read, write, and do arithmetic — is essential since those are the communities where the better jobs are going.
Neshoba County has historically had a very dedicated workforce; in other words, people who are willing to show up on time and work hard all day. So it’s key we have better opportunities.
The lack of better jobs over the last couple of decades has resulted in young people and families moving to places that have jobs. We need to keep our young people here. A vision for that is long overdue but it’s never too late to develop a vision.
A danger with these paid group studies is that they are often done with great enthusiasm, rolled out to much fanfare, and then left to sit on a shelf and collect dust.
Historically, the Chamber of Commerce here brought jobs like Wells Lamont and U.S. Motors in the 1960s because business leaders were courting industries and showcasing our community in local visits.
Philadelphia has much going, including Marty Stuart’s Congress of Country Music as Dolly Parton illustrated this summer.
Our Choctaw Indian Reservation is an economic development engine that sets our community apart.
The Neshoba County Fair has made us famous for hosting Mississippi’s Giant Houseparty.
In short, we have a lot more going for us than our neighbors in East Mississippi and even much of the rest of the state.
Having a vision and a plan to show prospects for even a Taco Bell is essential in today’s business climate.
The numbers matter and putting them in a visual plan is commendable. Annette Watkins at Neshoba General and the team at the Community Development Partnership are off to a good start with the Vision Neshoba effort.
Watkins, director of marketing and public relations at Neshoba General, says the name of this generational plan describes it all. It is a broad and comprehensive community development plan to provide economic and physical development strategies.
“Vision Neshoba is not just about downtown,” Watkins said. “It’s about the entire community here. There’s so much going on in Philadelphia right now that we need to be prepared for the future. Look at what happened with the Dolly concert. This is about the future generations of Philadelphia, Choctaw, and Neshoba County.”
Watkins is serving as co-chair for the Vision Neshoba initiative and said the idea for the project came about when potential business prospects began asking if Neshoba County had a master plan.
“Vision Neshoba is what will turn into that master plan,” she said. “There’s a lot to do in the next 12 to 14 months to develop it, and we’re having meetings about it now. We want people of all age groups, religions, jobs, and more, and we want their input. We want to leave a legacy for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren through this. It is a very big opportunity for us to flourish, and we want everyone to get involved and be a part of this process.”
After the master plan is laid out, Watkins said the next step is getting people involved in writing grants and starting up funding for future projects.
Orion Planning and Design is playing a huge role in Vision Neshoba, Watkins said.
The firm will be holding meetings here in October and will cover projects people would like to see as part of the plan.
Hopefully, Vision Neshoba will provide a long-term strategy for quality economic development in Neshoba County.