Aug 11, 2023

by: Joshua Wilson, Mississippi Business Journal

The national news media may rarely report on it, but there are plenty of good things happening in our small but mighty state.

A lot of those things are related to economic development efforts by organizations like The Alliance of Corinth and Alcorn County, which recruits new business to that area while also protecting and promoting existing industry.

As part of our ongoing “Our State” feature, we’re profiling every county in the state, and that effort involves chatting with the county economic development organizations. I spent some time talking to Clayton Stanley, president of The Alliance, this past week and also spoke with his tourism counterpart, Christy Burns of Visit Corinth.

Organizations like The Alliance and Visit Corinth have small staffs but wide-ranging responsibilities. Their efforts directly impact the quality of life in a region. These groups act as ambassadors, bringing in visitors, residents and new businesses, and they also work with area business leaders and government officials to confront and solve hurdles affecting the entire region’s population.

Clayton and Christy are doing excellent work. Corinth is one of the top travel destinations in the state, and the quality of life is high. They are to be applauded for their efforts to build up the area and stop the brain drain we’ve seen in recent years.

It’s often said that Mississippi is losing its young people to this phenomenon, but Clayton and Christy are seeing the reverse. People are moving to Corinth in droves, and they’re staying put because of the great schools, strong infrastructure, diverse business climate, mighty Main Street community and excellent health care offerings.

Both Clayton and Christy told me one of their main problems is not having enough places to house people. The housing market can’t build quick enough to keep up with demand, and there aren’t enough hotels to accommodate the influx of visitors. Talk about a unique problem to have, especially with all the negative press Mississippi tends to get.

Clayton and Christy are among hundreds, and maybe even thousands, of economic development and tourism officials throughout the state. These professionals kept our state afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Mississippi’s tourism industry bounced back quickly as the pandemic subsided, and people are visiting our state in record numbers.

The state’s economic development professionals are always recruiting new and interesting businesses to the state, and that has incredibly positive effects. Ocean Aero, which recently moved from San Diego to the Port of Gulfport, is a good example of the innovation they’re cultivating. Ocean Aero builds an autonomous underwater and surface vehicle called the TRITON. How cool is that?

Companies like this move to Mississippi because of the reputation carefully cultivated by the state economic development agency, the Mississippi Development Authority, and the efforts of local economic development and tourism officials. Their work opens the doors for young Mississippians to stay in the state and prosper. It also benefits every single one of us in terms of tax dollars and, quite frankly, state pride.

Kudos to all of these professionals. Their work isn’t easy, but it’s certainly appreciated.

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