Plans for economic development in Pearl River County
Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 21, 2015
Pearl River County officials are looking for ways to increase business and job creation in the county. Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero said they are actively recruiting manufacturers and retail companies to drive the county’s economic growth.
“We’re looking at a number of areas such as custom fabrication manufacturers, manufactures to support the Department of Defenses’ efforts at Stennis Space Center and manufacturers to support polymer industry in Hattiesburg,” Pinero said.
For the past couple of years, he said the county has been working on utilizing the parallel strategy, which identifies and recruits manufacturing and retail companies of all types into the county to occupy already existing buildings.
Last year, the Shale Support Services sand plant in Picayune went into full operation, which led to the creation of several jobs, Pinero said.
“That has been a very positive contributor to our economic growth,” Pinero said. “They have hired a number of people from all across the county to work at the facilities.”
Shale’s Vice President of Operations Paul DeVille said the facility has provided around 100 jobs since its inception, and will provide more job openings once construction is complete on several of its on-site facilities.
Pearl River County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said the county has many assets and developing a marketing strategy to exhibit them would help the economy grow as well.
“We have to market the assets that we have in the county that many don’t know we have,” Lumpkin said. “We have one of the best community colleges here, Pearl River Community College, and an interstate that runs all the way through the county.”
Recently, a new member, named Gray Swoope, joined the economic development team with the Butler Snow law firm in Hattiesburg, which is under contract with the county.
Lumpkin said Swoope would help the county reach economic growth.
“He brings a ton of experience that could benefit us here in the county,” Lumpkin said. “I hope he’ll help us continue moving forward and help us to recruit more businesses and get more job creation.”
However, District I Supervisor Anthony Hales said in order for economic growth to be possible, both money and effort has to be put into it.
“I don’t think there’s been enough money invested into creating infrastructure and climate that will promote business and development,” Hales said. “I don’t think the county has reached its full potential with economic development. I feel like there has to be, and we’ve made plans, but for some reason we haven’t come up with right formula to get that into motion.”
He also said economic growth requires a functioning relationship between local government and private sectors.
“It has to be a partnership between the private sector and local government, and well all have to be willing to do things to promote economic development,” Hales said.
Pinero said there’s always room for growth in both Picayune and Poplarville.
“I see what both cities are doing today, we are going to reap great rewards in the future. You’re going to see manufacturing growth and retail growth in both cities, they’re both positioned to take off and we’re using all of our assets to make this happen,” Pinero said.