Economy, tourism specialists focus of Partnership Forum 10/16/2015

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 16, 2015

Economy, tourism specialists focus of Partnership Forum

By John Howell
Mississippi Economic Council (MEC) CEO Blake Wilson, Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) Visit Mississippi Director Malcolm White and Valley Authority’s Economic Development Program Manager are featured in the Panola Partnership’s “Prepare to Launch” 2015 Fall Forum next Thursday, October 22.

The forum will offer opportunities for elected officials in Panola County and the surrounding area, civic and business leaders and people who just wonder what role they can play in improving the quality of life in the county to hear from specialists in economic and tourism opportunity development.

“The Panola Partnership continues a focus on local assets in our 2015 Fall Forum panel discussion,” Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons said.

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The Fall Forum also offers an opportunity for people interested in Panola County to know each other better. The Young Professionals of Panola (YPP) will sponsor a networking break between morning sessions. Afternoon activities include a four-man golf scramble starting at 1:30 p.m. at the Panola Country Club followed by a “Cool Down” networking social at 5:30 p.m.
TVA Economic Developer Program Manager Melissa Halsell opens the first session at 8:30 a.m. at the Batesville Civic Center. “I consult with and assist Valley communities in the TVA region with their retail attraction and retention strategies,” Halsell states on her LinkedIn page. She also manages the LinkedIn group “TVA Retail Development.

White, who will follow Halsell in a 10 a.m. forum at the Civic Center, has been invited “to educate us on how we can promote our local tourism,” according to the “Prepare to Launch” program. The invitation of the Visit Mississippi director coincides with the anticipated influx of visitors to the Polar Express Train Ride starting in November.

From the Civic Center, the forum venue will move to the Panola Country Club where Wilson will be luncheon speaker.

Wilson spoke at the Partnership’s annual banquet in March, 2014 and returned in November to bring MEC’s Regional Roundup meeting to the Civic Center. The affable Delaware native who came to Mississippi as MEC CEO in 1998 offers keen insights into a community’s assets that are often overlooked by residents so accustomed they take them for granted.

The 2015 Fall Forum is underwritten by over 35 corporate and individual sponsors.