Panola Partnership editorial

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chicken or egg,  leaders need to work it out

 Panola Partnership will hold its annual membership banquet Thursday evening in Como when several hundred members will gather for dinner, the naming of Panola County’s Miss Hospitality, entertainment and a report from the executive director.

The local organization serves as the economic development arm of the county as well as the county’s chamber of commerce while also directing Batesville’s Main Street program, a program to help preserve and maintain Batesville’s historical areas while stimulating the economy.

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Partnership allies, besides business and industry, include local municipalities who benefit from the Partnership’s successes. They, as well as Panola County, are also asked with members to contribute through dues, and donations whether monetary or in-kind.

In the past, Panola County has been fortunate in attracting new industry and helping existing ones expand. Credit some to an excellent location, but give a lot to a forward thinking group of leaders who laid groundwork that allowed us to competitively go after industries and expansions without constrictions that other areas less prepared may have.

Partnership Executive Director Sonny Simmons and his board have been actively pursuing development of a new industrial site near the Panola County Airport. Although no one seems to be against the development, economic restraints brought on by the lengthy recession have caused elected officials from both the county and city to scale down their offerings.

Noted in the discussion is the Development Payment  that will eventually bring the Partnership over $12 million during the 30 year life of the agreement from LS Power for use of the line that brings water from Enid Lake for steam used be the power plant to generate electricity.

That money comes to the Partnership in form of monthly payments that began at $25,000, are currently around $30,000 and should reach more that $44,000 during its final year in 2030.

Interest and earnings on that money were originally to be used solely for capital expenditures and not as operating funds. While the partnership is willing to use some of those funds, Simmons wants to hold on to enough so that the Partnership can sweeten a deal that may win over a fence riding prospect.

City and county officials aren’t jumping to raise tax millage for an industrial park thinking that the Partnership should pay more of the tab to get infrastructure to a certain point and then apply for grants when a prospect makes a serious commitment.

Simmons thinks no prospect is going to make a serious commitment until the infrastructure and site is ready.

Panola Partnership needs the support of all who are interested in keeping Panola County a viable business community.

And elected officials need to keep a close eye on the tax rate.

 And that is why the leadership of Panola Partnership along with county’s leadership and the leadership of our municipalities need to be in unison, working together for the economic betterment of Panola County.

Forward thinking leaders put us in a good position. Our current leadership should work together to keep us there.