By Craig Hitt

Special to The Messenger

For years, economic developers have worked with local and state officials to bring new jobs into our region and to keep existing jobs. Traditionally, we have done this through separate economic development groups and chambers of commerce. Over the past couple of years there has been a concerted effort put forth by these leaders to work together in a regional approach to bring job opportunities to this area.

These leaders are now meeting together and are working to turn East Mississippi into an economic destination point.

Utilities are proving to be an indispensable part of this regional strategy.  Mississippi Power Company, East Mississippi Electric Power Association (EMEPA) and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) have created hundreds of permanent jobs in East Mississippi. These companies have a sincere commitment to the community and are great participants in county activities and events. For instance, Mississippi Power Company and EMEPA recently joined forces to remove debris from the Chunky River.  A growing attraction for our region, this river is part of the longest undisturbed watershed in the Continental United State --- a tributary system that begins in Kemper County and runs all the way to the Coast.

Area developers have worked closely with East Mississippi Electric Power Association, Mississippi Power Company, Tennessee Valley Authority and other utilities to better prepare our region for economic growth.  Mississippi Power just recently hosted a regional economic development forum in Meridian aimed at fostering small businesses in our region.  

And the Kemper County Economic Development Authority is working with TVA and EMEPA to develop additional industrial sites in Kemper County that could impact communities and counties throughout East Mississippi and West Alabama.

True regional cooperation is built upon both realization and resolve. It begins with the realization that what’s good for one county is good for the neighboring counties.  It is fulfilled by the resolve to act cooperatively together, which we’re now doing.

I am grateful for the effort of local developers, elected state and local officials and our utility partners for the efforts that they are putting forth to improve and promote regional development.

Craig Hitt is executive Director of the Kemper County Economic Development Authority