Weighing the Good and Bad

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A survey conducted by the Image Committee of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation found that, contrary to some opinions, most people are basically satisfied with what the area has to offer.

When Billy Estes was thinking about moving to Meridian two and a half years ago, he didn't get a lot of encouragement from a good number of the people here.

"A few people said, if you're thinking about moving here, I don't know why. There's nothing to do here; there's no jobs here," said Estes.

But he moved anyway and not long after, he was asked to head up the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation's Image Committee.

The goal of the survey was to find out if those who had expressed negative opinions to him initially are in the majority here. The responses indicate that is not so.

"Sometimes, it gets to be the popular thing to be negative about things," observed committee member, Betty Lou Jones. "And when you really pin people down, they really love where they live."

Below are some of the more positive findings:

1.) 83 percent of people in the county think it is a good place to retire.
2.) 81 percent say it has good medical and health care services.
3.) 80 percent say it's a good place to raise a family.

Below are some of the more negative findings:

1.) 57 percent say they're satisfied with employment opportunities.
2.) 60 percent say they're satisfied with leisure opportunities.
3.) 63 percent say they're satisfied with cultural opportunities.
4.) 64 percent say they're satisfied with roads and transportation.

Estes said he's found the findings to be true in his time here, despite the fact that his initial experience suggested a negative self-image.

"My experience would have said that's what we would have here, but we didn't hear it," Estes said. "And I'm not surprised, because I've seen so many good things about the community since I got here."

Now, Estes has the numbers to back up his experiences.

In the survey, Meridian residents were also asked what they most liked and least liked about their hometown.

They most liked the people, the family environment, and the churches and religious beliefs.

They least liked the lack of good jobs, lack of leisure activities, and bickering among city and county leaders.

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