The Foundation recorded a number of positive developments in 2013 including new businesses, new committees and new enthusiasm for a number of traditional events. And CDF leaders have now turned their attention to the year ahead.
“We formed four committees in 2013 and they started meeting and making plans,” said Chickasaw Development Foundation Executive Director Joyce East. “They were very busy this fall deciding what they wanted to do and gathering data.”
East said those committees – Retail/Small Businesses, Recreation/Tourism, Marketing, Community Activity – each plan to launch at least one major project and several smaller tasks this year. She also said the work of the committees is inter-related and each draws on the resources of the others.
“Our Community Activity committee met seven times in the last two months of the year,” said East. “One of their goals is to hold an event that benefits the community economically each month in 2014.”
East said there are plans for a “Houston Hometown Hoe-down” in January or February, a spring event in late March, the 33rd annual Flywheel Festival in April and possibly a barbecue contest in June or July.
East said the Retail Committee has launched a survey and has taken inventory of what businesses and services are offered in the community.
“We have over 200 businesses in the 38851 zip code and that’s a lot,” said East. “We are looking for ways to help each one and we are looking for gaps where someone might want to start a business or service that is not currently offered.”
East said the Marketing Committee is developing a “tool box” containing brochures, flyers, magazines, website info and newspaper articles that can be handed to a prospective business or tourist.
East said the opening of the Tanglefoot Trail was a huge event for Houston and the Recreation/Tourism Committee has already found a number of ways to capitalize on the Trail.
“We are also looking for more ways to bring people to Houston, Houlka and Woodland to shop,” said East. “Davis Lake and the (Chickasaw County) Coliseum are also places we want to promote.”
East pointed out the Foundation hosted five grand openings in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Department Store Liquidators, Metro’s Forked Hole Restaurant, Paisley Peacock, the Chickasaw County Museum, the Trace Regional Hospital Clinic and GSV Care Medical Clinic in Houlka all opened last year.
“The Chickasaw Development Foundation is also working with Mississippi State and Duke University to do research in development patterns related to transportation projects like streets, county roads and highways.” said East. “The study would also show how the Tanglefoot Trail plays into this development.”
More than any new project, East said she sees a new energy at the Foundation as the board of directors and committees capitalize on a growing economy.
“Our board of directors is always busy, but we’ve seen a couple of things come together – some things we can control and some things we can’t – that really make the future look bright,” said East. “There is always plenty of work to do in this community and we just urge businesses and individuals to join with us in making our towns and county a better place place to live and work.”
Although Chickasaw County ranks 53th in population among Mississippi’s counties, it ranks 13th in manufacturing jobs. Five of the top 100 companies in Mississippi are either located in Chickasaw County or have their headquarters here. Chickasaw County is home to the largest furniture store in the state and is home to one of the largest privately owned furniture manufacturers in the United States with over 1,300 employees.
Chickasaw County manufactures a wide variety of products, such as wood products, upholstered furniture, polyfoam, cotton batting, carpet underlay, PVC pipe, wood turnings, shipping containers, specialized farming equipment, kitchen and gun cabinets and steel fabrication.