When I first arrived here in 2007 from Delaware, having been appointed the new Executive Director of the Phil Hardin Foundation, I knew I was in a different culture, climate, and attitude.
In the nearly 14 years since that time I have come to embrace its culture, and have observed, and continue to see, an evolving positive attitude.
I still struggle with the heat and humidity, but I’m working on that. In fact it is really in just the last five years that I have seen remarkable progress in a city that was seemingly apathetic and disenfranchised.
I believe that change has largely been due to the private sector, the public (government) sector, our very own Meridian Community College and Mississippi State University, and our business development entity the (EMBDC) realizing the benefit of sharing resources and working together.
I don’t know about you, but driving through our downtown area seeing knock-out roses on nearly every corner, buildings being renovated for new businesses on several streets, the growth of black owned businesses, the opening of new and nearly complete cultural attractions and the recently developed Key Brothers Industrial Site make me excited about our future – for families and for businesses.
Now that I am serving in a different capacity as Vice President for Community Relations for Structural Steel Services, I have become even more involved and aware of the importance of our business development community.
That is, the members of the EMBDC and our governmental bodies. Structural Steel Services was an early supporter of The Partnership, the precursor to the EMBDC. And SSS continues its active support of the EMBDC because without it we most likely would not be where we are today, and that is in a growth phase. You might ask why that is because Structural Steel Services does no business in Meridian or Lauderdale County or the east Mississippi region.
In a sense we have nothing to gain business wise, but we have so very much to lose – for our employees, our city, our county, our region, our schools. We must not lose this momentum. Our employees and their families live here, go to school here, and utilize our cultural attractions and shop here. So it is incumbent upon us that we support our county and city, our region, our educational institutions and the EMBDC.
We have momentum now, but we must continue to grow. We all know we need more industry and businesses which means more jobs. And that means we must find solutions to improving the educational levels of our children so that they will have the skills needed to attract businesses or to start their own – right here. It requires parents, our educational institutions, the community, our businesses, our churches and our citizens to actively participate in improving education, so the EMBDC and our governmental bodies can do their part in attracting new businesses and supporting local businesses.
Let’s keep this momentum going – for all of us.