A long look at Clarksdale and Coahoma County shows we have several good things going on around here that we hope will bear much fruit in the coming year.
The city’s effort to develop infrastructure, tourism spending in local restaurants and stores, rising sales taxes and falling unemployment are just a few of the headlines we saw in 2019.
So let’s take a look at where we are headed and what might happen in 2020.
I have been astounded at the three major economic development announcements this community had in 2019.
No other town our size in this state and certainly no other town in the Mississippi Delta can make that claim. Clarksdale truly is the Delta’s Rising Star.
Can we top it this year? I am an optimist but I am also a realist and understand the planets aligned and some really unique things happened in 2019. Some of those projects were several years in the making. All were a lot of hard work by a lot of people in this community.
I don’t think the average Joe realizes how hard it is to land a new factory. The economic development landscape has changed drastically. The competition is fierce and demands our very best effort.
The prospect of an existing industry expanding with a new product or stepping up production is a lot more probable. It’s a worn-out quote, but I’ll say it again: 80-percent of the new jobs created in a community are created by existing industry.
I do believe we will continue to see people very interested in locating their business or industry in Clarksdale. I also believe the people responsible for economic development will continue to sell and market this community to people around the nation and the globe.
We’ve got some good things going on around here. Those good things will continue in 2020.
Lawmakers head to Jackson this month and I pity those from this neck of the woods.
The GOP in Mississippi holds the reins and everyone from around here has a “D” after their name. Our guys will not get the choice committee assignments and they will find it difficult to sponsor legislation that is specific to Clarksdale and Coahoma County.
I have gotten to know our local lawmakers over the past few months and most know how this game is played. They will have to find people on the other side of the aisle who can champion their causes and they will owe those guys when other issues crop up in 2020.
Last but not least, they will have to quietly get to know the new leadership landscape in Jackson. Governor Tate Reeves, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn don’t like each other. The only hope the Delta contingent can expect is to help out when GOP politics gets personal and GOP wedges are driven into the GOP agenda.
We do have a new Northern District Highway Commissioner from this area in the form of John Caldwell. We need him to help us four-lane Highway 6 from Clarksdale to Batesville.
I hope city and county leaders talk regularly with our state elected officials. I hope the good people of Coahoma County call them on a regular basis.
I hope this is the year we see our school test scores improve dramatically.
At one point this fall I was certain the state would be taking over our schools in 2020 – and that could still happen – but they may leave us alone for one more year.
We are spending $33 million in our city schools and $22 million in our county schools and we aren’t getting $55 million worth of education for our children.
No other institution in any community sets the tone for community development like a successful school district.
I do think this is the year Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center hits their stride and this community once again gets behind their local hospital.
Our hospital and more importantly our hospital employees have suffered – through no fault of their own – over the past few years. Our hospital is a major employer and adds much to this community.
I do believe 2020 will be good for healthcare in Clarksdale.
Quality of Life
It’s the fun we had in 2019 that we remember the most. That will hold true for 2020.
We hope this will be the year Coahoma Community College football sparkles and draws a crowd on Thursday night. They need to market this new program, bring in some food trucks and make football out there more of a community celebration than an athletic event.
I hope it doesn’t rain during this spring’s Juke Joint Festival. My first visit to Clarksdale for this high profile event saw me soaked to the bone, but people still having a good time and spending dollars in our restaurants and businesses. I can’t imagine how much fun it could be with four days of sunshine.
We expect the opening of at least one new restaurant will continue to improve our downtown as a destination for both locals and the world.
Those are my predictions. Let’s work together and see what kind of news we make in 2020.
Floyd Ingram is the Editor of your Clarksdale Press Register. Call him with your predictions at 627-2201 or Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.