In real estate there are three factors that determine the value of a piece of property. Location. Location Location.
In the economic development business that attracts industry to a community the three factors are: Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure.
That point was hammered home time and time again at Friday’s State of the Region meeting that saw some of Northeast Mississippi’s top economic development gurus, education deans and local movers and shakers gather in Tupelo.
Houston, Okolona and even Woodland and Houlka had city elections this year and when you asked candidates what their top priority was in their campaign they all said jobs. A community with jobs has hope. A community without jobs . . . well let’s try to stay positive.
So what is this thing called infrastructure and who has it?
Four-lane highways, railroads, water, sewer, electricity, natural gas, a qualified work force and leaders who can wisely work to offer solid and lucrative tax incentives all factor into infrastructure.
Okolona has four-lane, rail, some water and it’s not too far from the natural gas reservoir at Muldon. Houston lacks a four-lane and a railroad, but it better suited with water and sewer.
Woodland and Houlka are tailor-made for light industry.
This newspaper firmly believes Okolona was quietly a candidate for the Yokohama tire plant that landed in West Point. West Point’s ace was access to a high-voltage TVA substation and a Golden Triangle team that got out and beat the bushes trying to bring industry and jobs to the Point City.
We hope Chickasaw County never looks at economic development as a Houston-or-Okolona competition.
What benefits those on the other side of the creek benefits us all.
Local chamber leaders have repeatedly pointed out hundreds of people drive to Okolona and Houston each day for jobs in local factories. People in Chickasaw County drive to Toyota and to Tupelo each morning to work at good jobs. People from here will drive to Yokohama to make tires when they open for business.
Yes, infrastructure is critical, but playing to community strengths and working as a team is the key. Chickasaw County needs to pull its team together and get in the game.