Pearl River County’s Economic Development Director shares goals with Exchange Club

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 15, 2020

Pearl River County’s Economic Development Council Director has been making the rounds, speaking with local governmental entities and civic clubs.
Blaine LaFontaine’s message to each of those entities is that his priority is to work toward long term growth for the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors, Picayune City Council and Poplarville’s Board of Aldermen.
During a visit with members of the Exchange Club of Picayune this week, LaFontaine said he intends to develop a marketing strategy for the area by touting the strengths, while also identifying weaknesses.
His background includes a stint as a member of the Hancock County Board of Supervisors, term on Diamondhead’s City Council and an employment experience in shipbuilding, food processing and waste water.
While a website for his newly established office has been launched, he feels it needs to be updated with information to make this area competitive, including testimonials from local business owners about why Pearl River County is a viable place to set up shop.
He also intends to market the area’s existing assets, such as the Crosby Arboretum, easy access to rail, and proximity to Stennis Space Center.
A year ago, this area missed out on bringing in a polymer company that would have brought in about 10 jobs paying an average of $150,000. He hopes that within the next year this county will be better positioned to capitalize on those opportunities and in turn effect growth.
But in order to achieve that goal, he knows he will be stealing assets from other areas in the country.
Retail leakage is another problem LaFontaine said needs to be addressed.
“People need to spend more money in this area rather than St. Tammany Parish,” LaFontaine said.
Another issue he wants to tackle is low Census participation. If as many families as possible participate in the upcoming Census, Pearl River County will be better positioned to received the most federal and state funding possible.

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