Selling Meridian

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Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors President Craig Hitt, Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith, Skip Staggs of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation and realtor Larry Dudley just returned from the National Shopping Center Convention in las Vegas.

"The most interesting thing of the trip is the fact that we are recognized," said Hitt. "We are the point in the Southeastern part of the United States that people are looking to and that's people from New York City to the West Coast."

Hitt said the success of Bonita Lakes Mall, Super Wal-Mart and Lowe's is well known among developers and retailers across the country.

"We spoke with several different companies that are interested in this area. A number of these are very specific, even have locations picked out that they want to pursue. So I feel very strongly that we will see new projects in the next couple of years," Hitt said.

The board president said the expense of the trip was money well spent. "We can't sit here in Meridian and Lauderdale County and expect people to come to us," said Hitt. "We've got to go to them. We've got to work with prospective tenants and do what we can to bring them to Meridian. We're in a great situation now. The interest is there. There's a lot of work to be done, a lot of follow up to be done from this trip, but the future looks very good for this area."

Hitt added that CBL officials have told the story of their success here so often and so well that everywhere he went developers said they planned to visit the market because they want to do business here.