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Mississippi Power speakers discuss economic and community development at Main Street meeting

Two Mississippi Power representatives spoke about economic and community development at the Picayune Main Street membership meeting Thursday.

Tomeka Wiley Durr said she brings resources together to help support economic development in the community.

One of those resources is a consulting firm, which gives market data about the services needed in Pearl River County, Durr said. Mississippi Power invested in acquiring that information in order to provide free market data to the community, Durr said.

Durr is currently working on a strategy to bring more grocery stores to Picayune, she said, and there is need for more healthcare services and hotels. Durr said she encourages the community to consider investing in a feasibility study in order to bring more hotels to the area.

Durr asked the attendees for businesses they would like to see downtown, and was given a list that included a grocery store, more restaurants and a microbrewery. She committed to working with Picayune Main Street to see if market analysis supports any of the business suggestions.

Durr said Mississippi Power is also sponsoring the Mississippi Gulf Coast Franchise Investment Summit in Biloxi, which will connect people who are interested in opening a franchise or in franchising with one another.

Joi Saucier said that Mississippi Power has three focus areas for community development: connecting to the community by giving employees the opportunity to make a difference through donations, encouraging STEM education for eighth to 12th grade students and working in the community on leadership development.

“Our idea is simply to help our community be stronger and better prepared,” Saucier said.

In 2018, Mississippi Power raised and donated over $140,000 and assisted more than 30 families with various needs—such as installing ADA compliant ramps in homes, Saucier said.

Saucier said the company encourages STEM education by sponsoring the Pearl River County robotics team and by participating in career awareness events like Pathways2Possibility, an annual career expo for youth in Biloxi.