MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The East Mississippi Business Development Corporation's annual meeting is a time to talk about goals and plans for the future. The year 2019 was a challenge with closures of some longtime businesses and national chains, but other businesses have also located here or are in the process of opening.
A panel of business consultants discussed the area's economic progress. All agree that Meridian is developing and is on the right track to keep residents spending money at local businesses without having to leave the city.
President of investment company, Rockstep Capital, Andy Weiner said Hype, the upcoming indoor park at Bonita Lakes Mall, will play a large role in increasing local tourism.
"Instead of people in Meridian having to go to Jackson, or Tuscaloosa or Hattiesburg, for family entertainment venues, you're actually going to see people coming from those communities to Meridian,” said Weiner.
Weiner encourages city leaders to invest even further to continue the local growth.
“I would love for this city to do something to take advantage of the fact that Hype can help the city attract regional tournaments,” said Weiner. "If they had a ball field set up, combined with Hype, it would help the city compete."
Weiner also told the audience that physical stores can still be successful in the era of online shopping.
“Most retail has figured out that to compete they need to have an e-commerce platform, a good app and a really good robust set of stores,” said Weiner. “In fact, this year to date, more stores opened than closed.”
Events coordinator Casey Holladay said this is the EMBDC’S 23rd annual meeting.
"This is just an opportunity for us to bring all our members together and discuss the business that we do and also talk about some economic development things happening in Meridian and Lauderdale County,” said Holladay.
The meeting was held at the MSU Riley Center.