Cochran vital to development
By Alexandra Hedrick
Pearl River County Board of Supervisors President J. Patrick Lee and Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero, who also is Director of Planning and Development, traveled to Washington D.C. to speak to Mississippi’s senior U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran about the continued economic development in the county.
Lee and Pinero said that Cochran has been a big part of the economic expansion in the county.
“The model for economic development that we are using in the county is getting talked about statewide in a positive manner and Senator Cochran wanted to hear more and find out what they could do to continue to support Picayune and Pearl River County,” Pinero said.
Lee said county officials have a vision and direction for the future of the county. He said there are sacrifices that have to be made now “so in 20 years, this is a better place to live.
“You can’t be scared to cost yourself a few votes if you think it’s for the greater good of the county,” Lee said.
Lee said what makes the county a marketable area is its high ground. It is close to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, without the constant danger of flooding. The county also has rail access and sits on the Interstate 59 corridor.
With about 9,000 residents leaving the county every day to work, Lee is looking to bring in manufacturers that will create jobs for the residents of the county.
Pinero said having manufacturers and companies come into the county will create a new tax base that will take the tax pressure off of landowners.
“We’re trying to develop a framework for the future of economic development. We want our students, our children and grandchildren to be able to stay in PRC and work here instead of being a bedroom community,” Pinero said.
Pearl River Community College is another marketable aspect of the county, Lee said.
Pinero said PRCC is willing to “customize training to fit the specific needs of a manufacturer, which goes above and beyond what they do daily.”
Both Lee and Pinero said over the last few years the approach to economic development has changed. Pinero said before it was one economic developer working towards expansion, but now all officials across the county work towards development.
“All the elected officials work together and when I say that, I’m talking county-wide. Poplarville, PRC, Picayune — all act as one. We approach it as one effort,” said Pinero. “You have to have a team approach to bring in companies. You can’t do it all yourself. No one has that level of expertise.”
Lee said there are many companies that are looking at Pearl River County, but wouldn’t give any company names.