Regional Concept Touted

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Pickering praised some counties for their efforts to bring new industry to their areas, but Lauderdale County was not one of them.

Newscenter 11 asked Wallace Strickland, chairman of the board for the East Mississippi Business Development Center about what could be termed Pickering's gentle criticism.

"I think it was criticism of the local government, county government, city government and EMBDC," said Strickland. "I think he was pretty harsh on all of us."

"We haven't hit on the appropriate formula yet where we all work together," Strickland said. "We just simply don't work together."

The congressman had called for creating a regional approach by east Mississippi counties. The EMBDC chairman said it is not that easy.

"EMBDC is funded by Lauderdale County and the city of Meridian and private business. It's hard for us to regionalize where we're funded by one or two of the local government agencies. How are we going to reach out to other counties, other areas, if we're funded solely by Lauderdale County and the city of Meridian along with private funding?"
Strickland asked.

He admitted there is criticism of EMBDC.

"I don't try to respond to it. I think we're as frustrated as the county and the city leaders are," said Strickland. "I think we have an industrial park that the county spent several dollars for. We're just now getting utilities there. You can't sell something that's not there."

Strickland suggested the Montgomery Institute could be the answer with its ability to reach across county lines and create a regional approach.

"This is something we need to look at doing. We just can't continue with the same old same old," said the EMBDC chairman.

Newscenter 11 puts those questions about the regional concept to Mike McGrevey, president of the Montgomery Institute, on Friday.