The Clarke County Chamber of Commerce honored its citizen of the year, Peggy Fouche, and business of the year, the Ole Tyme Butcher Shop, Monday night at its annual meeting. It also welcomed new president, Leigh Moore.
The goal of the Clarke County Chamber of Commerce is economic development and job creation to help improve the quality of life for residents. Its 85th Annual Banquet celebrated a productive year, according to outgoing chamber president, Tom Lord.
"This year we began a new leadership program," said Lord. "We've also developed a tourism bureau. We hope to expand tourism in Clarke County."
Known for its artesian wells and natural water springs, Lord said the county hopes to increase tourism by developing another of its natural resources, the Chickasawhay River.
"It begins right here in Clarke County. It flows the entire length of Clarke County, and we hope to clean up the river and develop it for boating, canoeing, fishing and have a fine asset for the county," said Lord.
State legislators Eric Robinson, Greg Snowden and Videt Carmichael were in attendance. The event was highlighted by Gov. Haley Barbour as the featured speaker. Barbour told the audience what he thinks state government can do to aid in job creation.
"First was tort reform and end lawsuit abuse in Mississippi. Second, improve our workforce development and job training programs. And last, no tax increases," Barbour said.
"Clarke County three years ago had the highest unemployment rate in the state," said Lord. "Tonight our rate is 5.9 percent, which one of the lowest in east Mississippi. We're slowly getting back to where we need to be as far as jobs are concerned."