STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Millions of dollars could be leaking from Stone County, according to a recent study. Leaders and business owners met to review the numbers and discuss solutions.
It's safe to say that a lot has changed in the county in recent months and years. The economy is enough to impress an associate professor from the college of business at USM.
Dr. Chad Miller said although there has been growth in areas, there could be more. A study conducted by one of his graduate students, Michael Brinza, showed an estimated millions of dollars leaving the area for the coast or Hattiesburg.
"We need to do whatever we can to find our niche, to have more of those people to shop in Wiggins," said Mayor Joel Miles.
The retail trade analysis had Miles brainstorming business strategies. To him, it's not just about keeping customers in the city or the county.
"We need to see about drawing some new businesses in," said Miles.
This thought is something business leaders hope will come to fruition with the help of Betsy Rowell and the Economic Development Partnership. Rowell brought Miller into the mix to help get the wheels turning.
"This is information that implies some of the strategies that we need to be pursuing through EDP," said Rowell.
The presentation revealed which way the money was flowing. It showed what type of retail was seeing the most business in the county and what people were buying elsewhere.
"You have to adapt to the times, but you always have to invest in your business," said business owner Jeffry Peters.
Even though his business, Jack's Home Improvement Center, is doing well, Peters said he learned a lot from the study.
"Through advertising, there's a few things I need to do. North of the county, south of the county. Maybe billboards to get the word out," said Peters.
Many of the leaders in the community want to do just that: get the word out and keep the dollars in.
"Wiggins and Stone County are open for business," said Miles.
Rowell plans to increase the county's relationship with USM and the business department for future economic studies.