By Amanda McBride
Louisville Newspapers Inc.
WINONA — Webster, Choctaw and Montgomery counties have officially partnered to recruit industries and create jobs within the tri-county area.
The presidents of the boards of supervisors for Webster, Choctaw and Montgomery counties signed a resolution last week forming the Regional Economic Partnership of Mississippi.
The goals of the partnership are to recruit industrial development, support existing businesses, market the tri-county region and educate communities on the economic development process.
On July 31 members of all three county boards of supervisors, along with other county elected officials and people committed to economic development, met in Winona to officially sign the resolution forming the partnership.
Chris McIntire, president of the Choctaw County Board of Supervisors, said the three counties are combing their efforts on the local, state and congressional level to unify together to further economic development in the region.
“The first step is today. Next is to form a board of directors and hire a director. It’s a great day for this region,” said McIntire before the signing of the resolution began.
The board of directors will be a six-member board with two supervisors from each county serving on the board. Soon after the board of directors is formed it will begin the search to find a person to serve as the partnership director.
To join the partnership each county had to commit to $40,000 for the first fiscal year. A budget for the $120,000 has yet to be finalized.
District 15 Sen. Gary Jackson was on hand to witness the formation of the partnership.
“We are excited about anything that will open doors for future economic development. Joining forces with these three counties seem to be following the national trend but also seems to be the best idea for the county,” said Jackson.
District 15 includes Choctaw, Webster and Montgomery counties along with Attala, Calhoun, Oktibbeha and Winston.
After the resolution was signed, McIntire added that the partnership will help bring in more jobs for all three counties and they will be able to combine economic development sources to recruit more industry for the region.
Pat Cummings, president of the Webster County Board of Supervisors, said, “This is something that we’ve put a lot of time and effort into. Our main focus is to create jobs in this region. It’s going to benefit everybody, whichever county lands jobs.”
Adding to the excitement forming the partnership was Ron Woods, president of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors.
“We are just excited about the three-county partnership,” he said. “Our intentions are to do the best for the taxpayers for all three counties.”
The next step is to send the signed resolution to the Attorney General’s Office for approval.
The three counties have been working to develop the partnership for more than a year now. In the early stages, Choctaw, Webster and Montgomery counties wanted to form the regional partnership, then Carroll County wanted to join.
All boards approved a 90-day professional services agreement with Stone Adams, in September and October, to form the regional partnership.
In April, the four boards approved an interlocal agreement to form the partnership.
Now, the partnership does not include Carroll County.
On the morning of July 31, the Webster County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to enter into the most current interlocal agreement with the other two counties to form a regional economic development district. The vote was 5-0.
The Choctaw Board of Supervisors also approved the most current interlocal agreement that morning in a 4-1 vote. District 5’s Eric Chambers voted against it.