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Here's mud in your eye

By Staff
Oct. 28, 2001
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a civil rights era special interest group, has thrown up every obstacle its officials can think of against Nissan's $930 million automotive manufacturing plant in Madison County. Last week, a new concept arose as the group opposed designation of the property as a blighted area for the purposes of receiving urban renewal funds.
According to the Associated Press, Madison County supervisors voted to declare the 1,400-acre Nissan plant site as an urban renewal area, a designation that would allow the county to apply for grants to help pick up its share of developmental costs.
The block grant funds are awarded by the Mississippi Development Authority, which receives the money from HUD. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference filed its protest with HUD.
This is another in a series of acts by the conference to delay and otherwise interfere with construction of a facility that clearly is in the long term economic interests of all Mississippians. Nissan is a welcome resident in Mississippi, offering more than 4,000 jobs to underpaid workers badly in need of them and offering tremendous future potential to the state at large.
When Mississippi landed the plant, it was heralded as the most significant project of the year. The promise was, and remains, tremendous.
The conference spearheaded a nasty fight between the state and a handful of local property owners for unused Madison County farmland needed for the project. The nastiness continues to this day and, somehow, the conference has come to believe it is a fight over civil rights.
The time has come for the single-issue group known as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to butt out and let the company build the plant, launch operations and achieve the promise of new jobs and economic opportunity for Mississippians of all colors. Economic growth should be color-blind. Growth lifts people off the bottom rung of the income ladder, too.
There is nothing "Southern" about this group in the sense that it has not extended hospitality and warmth to Nissan. There is nothing "Christian" about this group in the sense that there are no religious questions involved. There is certainly no positive "leadership" in this group's destructive actions.
Under the guise of "Southern" "Christian" and "leadership," this group is attempting to exert its political power over the future course of economic development in Mississippi. Nissan will finish this plant. Already, some people are working in new jobs. What the Southern Christian Leadership Conference really needs to do is encourage and support the effort to create new economic opportunity.