Dealing with opportunity
Nov. 26, 2000
In the year 2025, a short quarter century from now, what will be the state of the Meridian area economy? Is our city destined to become a way station for travelers on the way to some larger destination, say Philadelphia or Canton?
Upon what will we depend for the bulk of the tax revenues collected to run the functions of government? Retail sales? Other services? Manufacturing?
What jobs will hold our children here? In what line of work will they be able to make a good living and care for their own families?
When others in Mississippi think of Meridian, what will they think of? What is our identity?
Will the city and county agree on consolidation of governmental services?
How will we choose to compete against communities with loftier ambitions and the creative leadership to achieve them?
These questions, and others, should create a renewed sense of urgency as Meridian and Lauderdale County face the consequences of two significant new developments destined to change the economic landscape of central and east central Mississippi.
First, Nissan announced a billion-dollar automotive manufacturing plant in Madison County, about a hundred miles from here. With the promise of 4,000 new jobs paying an average of about $25 per hour, many Meridianites are already making plans to check out job possibilities.
Secondly, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has broken ground on its new $750 million Golden Moon hotel and casino, with the promise of 2,000 new jobs. Average pay for these jobs will not equal pay for the Nissan jobs but their availability will likely create competition with other service-related jobs in the Meridian area.
The potential of these two projects is staggering: 6,000 new jobs, at least $1.75 billion in capital investment.
Meridian and Lauderdale must begin to come together on a shared, common vision for what our home area should become in the next quarter century especially in view of these two major developments.