What creates the best economic opportunities for the most people?
At the top of the list is taking care of our existing business. According to economic development experts, existing business provides almost 80 percent of the jobs and capital in local communities. Studies indicate that wise communities support the well-being of these vital players in our local economy.
Existing business is a community’s most valuable asset and an essential part of any industrial development program. We should give first priority to supporting these existing enterprises as the best source of potential expansion and local job growth.
Luring businesses away from neighboring communities is a zero-sum game that doesn’t create new wealth in the area economy. Community economic development should support local entrepreneurship to help build locally based businesses that can succeed among national competitors.
More and more development experts are recognizing that the answer to local problems comes from local people. The Mississippi Development Authority advocates working with local business first, then recruiting new business to come into a community. That’s the order. First, help the people who are here.
Often after the announcement of a new plant, community leaders forget about it and start looking for another one. Most new plants are designed to be at least doubled in size. Thus the new industry in a community brings with it a “built-in” opportunity for additional new jobs. A company that has been treated well in a community is likely to consider expanding its existing plant should the need arise. The company that has not been treated well will probably leave. And, a new industrial prospect will always want to talk to local industrial managers (usually behind closed doors) before deciding to locate in a community.
Expansion of existing industry has the same benefits as the attraction of new industry and is an important aspect of a truly comprehensive industrial development program. An expansion does not (usually) absorb as much in community resources (water, sewage, roads, etc.) as a new industrial plant. Thus expansion is doubly attractive. To encourage expansion, viewpoints and problems of existing industry should be identified through interviews and meetings with plant managers. Programs for assisting in local problem solutions should then be undertaken.
Local business owners already have an investment in our community. Retaining and expanding the business we have is not only good for local business it is good for our town.
The future of Water Valley is in the hands and hearts of its citizens.