Jackson County Leaders Reveal Economic Development Plans

From traveling on the interstate to boating on the Pascagoula River, these are just a few of the assets Jackson County's residents want county leaders to develop.

"You start with the end in mind of where you want to go and develop a plan on how to get there," district one supervisor Manly Barton said.

A new long-range plan is exactly where the county is starting. Although some details, like cleaning up the county's appearance and helping current businesses expand, are already part of the formula, the county is starting fresh.

"The information we are getting from the citizens should help us develop a plan," Barton said.

"For growth and development we have to work together with the economic development people to get the right things happening at the right time," Sharon Harper with the Jackson County planning commission said.

The first step in the plan is to start a new independent department in charge of all economic development for the county.

"The port authority was part of that, the board, the planning department, so the idea of everybody coming together means so much," Harper said.

George Freeland has been tapped to lead this new department.

"My initial task will be to begin meeting and setting up a series of key meetings and begin building those relationships and that consensus," Freeland said.

This new department will be made up of current economic leaders, but with a new focus on simulating growth. The new economic development office is expected to be staffed by the end of May. It's being funded in part by the Board of Supervisors and the Chamber of Commerce.