Reaching Higher and Higher

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According to Philadelphia Mayor Rayburn Waddell, over the last decade there has been about a 50 percent increase in the number of businesses in the town and there's more on the way.

Last year, Philadelphia was chosen by officials with the Mississippi Development Authority as one of two towns in the state to be developed as a model site for economic growth.

"Philadelphia has great growth potential. It's poised to be one of the jewels in the state," said Henry Cote of the Mississippi Development Authority.

One of the areas slated for further development is downtown.

"We have several buildings downtown that would make great downtown apartments and we're going to focus real heavy on trying to get some apartments in downtown," said Mayor Rayburn Waddell of Philadelphia.

Plans are already in the works to open two new shopping centers in Philadelphia. One would be located near downtown and provide items for rent. The other, next to Wal-Mart Supercenter, is already underway. This center will house shops that supply sports and nail care needs.

Just next month the town is set to launch a public transportation system. Roads and housing improvements are also slated.

"We're in the process of developing a hospital plan and trying to come up with money to expand our emergency room and an overall overhaul of our hospital," said David Vowell, president of the Community Development Partnership.

Federal, state and local officials toured the town Thursday and then gathered to brainstorm on ideas of how to make the upgrade plans become a reality.