By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE, Miss. – Yalobusha County is a step closer to having a full-time economic development director.
Leadership from across the county reached a tentative agreement in Coffeeville last Thursday for the county to foot position’s bill.
The meeting was hosted by board members of the Yalobusha County Economic Development Foundation (EDF), and included elected officials from both county seats and all three municipalities.
Phil Hardwick, a representative with the John C. Stennis Institute of Government, was on hand to offer insight into effective organizations he had worked with across the state.
“I do a lot of strategic planning with cities and counties,” Hardwick explained as the meeting began. He joined the Stennis Institute as program coordinator after retiring from the Mississippi Valley Gas Co. – leading that company’s economic and community development efforts.
“We need a direction where everybody pulls together,” Rex Howell said, adding that “we are fighting among ourselves,” as the forum started. Howell serves on the EDF board.
The meeting defined the how-tos and what-ifs of funding scenarios.
The main question though was how to construct the economic development board. This included who would hire the director; who the director would report to; and if the effort was totally funded by the county, how could the cities be fairly represented.
The meeting was similar to a June meeting at which county supervisors verbally agreed to fund a director position.
A question that was not answered, is how much funding this position and related expenses will require.
“We have looked at this from our last meeting. The board is pretty well ready to do what we need to do,” Board President Amos Sims said about county funding.
“Money is of the essence for the county. If we are ever going to lower taxes, we got to have jobs and people,” Supervisor Tommy Vaughn said.
“If we don’t do this, we are doing the taxpayers a disfavor,” he added.
See this week’s print edition of The Herald for complete coverage of the meeting.