City residents hear about projects, economic development at Coffee with the Mayor

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 24, 2018

Economic development was the main topic of discussion during the most recent Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce’s Coffee with the Mayor.

Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero started the morning’s discussion with updates on several completed projects, including the amphitheater and walking track at Crosby Commons. He said that he’s noticed an increasing number of people using the walking track, including parents pushing strollers while they exercise.

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Work to repair or replace water and natural gas lines across the city is also complete. Final efforts in that project included checking with each property owner affected by the work to ensure their yards were back in order.

Construction of a new fire station at the end of Goodyear Boulevard is still moving forward, Pinero said.  The station, when complete, will replace the aging facility on Palestine Road.

In terms of economic development, Pinero said discussions are ongoing with several companies interested in operating within the Picayune area and within Pearl River County. While he still declined to give details about the companies, Pinero said each company indicated they could employ 10 to 50 people.

Pinero said that the recent focus by Pearl River Community College has been to meet the demands of employers. He said there are about 5,000 skilled labor positions unfilled in the Gulf Coast area.

“We can’t train enough people to fill those jobs fast enough,” Pinero said.

And many of those jobs offer a competitive annual starting salary, usually not less than $40,000.

The college also added an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle program to meet the current and future demand in that sector. Pinero said companies such as Chevron have found UAVs useful in applications such as inspecting oilrigs.

The demand of drafting and design and instrumentation electronics has also increased, prompting PRCC to expand the number of classrooms for those courses.

When asked, Pinero also addressed recent contention over budget requests at Council meetings, specifically those concerning the installation of a fence around the cemetery on Eighth Street. He started his response with saying the city would find it difficult to continue to receive favorable audits if unbudgeted expense requests were regularly approved.

Pinero ended the conversation by saying that he has been unhappy with the direction of those conversations.