MDA offers suggestions on economic development partnership

By Amanda McBride The Choctaw Plaindealer

With the proposed economic development partnership still undecided, the Choctaw County Economic Development District and Foundation looked to Kathy Gelston for guidance.

In a joint meeting of the CCEDD and Foundation on January 7, Gelston, the deputy director and chief financial officer for the Mississippi Development Authority, described some aspects of an economic development alliance that the boards should consider. Gelston suggested in the planning process of beginning an alliance, to think about what each county has to offer and to “make sure you partner with a county that has the same labor pool.”

She used Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha Counties as an example and the alliance they are forming with The Link.

She said there are different ways counties can form an alliance by sharing administrative costs only for an economic developer, the amount of money each county contributes and how (millage vs. exact dollar).

“I can’t tell you that one way is right,” said Gelston.

“If you decide to go with an alliance, decide what you want to put in and get out of it before you sign on the dotted line,” she suggested. In answering a question from a board member, Gelston said there are no rural economic development partnerships like the proposed one for Choctaw County. She and members present then began discussing other alliances in the state and how they differ from the one proposed for Choctaw County.

Gelston also said to the economic development boards, that it is important to know what you want in an economic developer and have ways to check on that person.

After the presentation, the Choctaw County Economic Development District and Foundation board discussed whether or not a decision had to be made that night about donating the $30,000 to the county to join the proposed partnership. District 5 Supervisor Eric Chambers and Ron Bennett, CCEDD president, also discussed whether or not a contract for the partnership was being still being discussed.

No action was taken during the meeting on the proposed economic development partnership.