Meridian, the state's news center

By By Buddy Bynum / editor
April 10, 2002
News junkies, take note: Yesterday, Meridian was the state's news center, and it felt really good to be in the mainstream of the daily news cycle. For once, the newsmakers came here in what I took as a positive sign many of the state's leaders are beginning to factor East Mississippi's needs into their agendas.
First, a packed house at the MSU-Meridian Campus greeted Bob Rohrlack, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, in a breakfast sponsored by the East Mississippi Business Development Corp. Rohrlack talked generally of how a positive community attitude will help attract economic development.
Rohrlack's heart seems to be in the right place, but it seemed to me he talked a little too much about where he came from Gainesville, Fla. He even mentioned the dreaded words "Florida Gators" right there in the confines of MSU-Meridian when he probably should have been thinking "Jackie Sherrill."
But, after only five months on the job, he's still learning.
I'm glad he visited Meridian and we at The Star appreciate the time he took to meet with our editorial board, where he expounded on his view of economic development and offered a guarded assessment of why Mississippi lost the billion-dollar Hyundai project.
Hyundai announced last week it would build its plant in the Montgomery, Ala., area, where the state of Alabama offered a $254 million incentives package that amounted to about $117,000 per job.
More on this subject Sunday.
Move now to a group of 50 or so commercial real estate agents and economic developers getting an up close look at Meridian's downtown revitalization efforts in a visit put together by our town's own Larry Dudley for the Mississippi Commercial Association of Realtors.
They came from the Coast, Hattiesburg, Jackson and Laurel to spend the morning and much of the afternoon learning more about our city's commercial and residential development projects.
In an example of regional cooperation, Stennett and Gray Swoope, president of the Area Development Partnership in Hattiesburg, gave an intriguing presentation on the I-59MS Technology Corridor. The corridor is a 168-mile span of I-59 from Meridian to Stennis Space Center in Pearl River County that is emerging into a network of high-tech industries.
Think Peavey, Lockheed Martin, Howard Industries, NASA, Boeing, Rexel, Kohler Engines and GE Plastics.
For more information, visit www.I-59MS.com.
Then comes Atty. Gen. Mike Moore to talk about his statewide mentoring program and the Boys and Girls Clubs. He was all over the city, looking like someone who genuinely cares about this state's children, and I don't doubt for a minute that he does. As photographer Carisa McCain discovered while shooting photos for today's edition, Moore pointed at adults in the room and asked them to be mentors. An answer of "I'll try" was not good enough. Moore and the children around him wanted to hear an emphatic "Yes!"
Moore even made time for an editorial board session with this newspaper.
Finally, this note: Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, involved in a continuing squabble with the Legislature over how to prop up a Medicaid program that is running a ghastly deficit on his watch, hastily penciled in Meridian on his travel schedule yesterday. He didn't bother to share his valuable time with The Meridian Star and its daily readership of thousands of East Mississippians. But, I don't feel slighted. Our visit with Attorney General Mike Moore was much more entertaining and enlightening.
See page A1 today for what Moore said about the possibility of running against Musgrove in a Democratic gubernatorial primary.

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