SENATOBIA — Rumors have swirled around Mississippi’s business community the past few weeks that Tate County, a prosperous county strategically located in the northwest corner of the state, might see a significant industrial development from a large international company.
Buddy Bynum, public affairs director for the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development, said that the DECD doesn’t comment on rumors.
Whether or not the rumors turn out to be true or merely idle speculation like so much other office gossip, the fact is that Tate County is a great place to do business.
PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP SUCCESS
“Tate County is the fourth fastest-growing county around Memphis,” said Janie Mortimer, executive director since the Tate County Economic Development Foundation’s inception. “Our population of 24,000 has already surpassed year-2000 projections.”
Formed in 1995, the Tate County Economic Development Foundation is a public/private partnership supported by the cities of Coldwater and Senatobia and the Tate County Board of Supervisors.
“Before the foundation was formed, we were making presentations for clients and prospects on a volunteer basis with our Industrial Development Authority,” said Senatobia Mayor Steve Hale. “The foundation has enabled us to move to the next step. The whole effort has been well worth the investment local governments and the private sector have made in the partnership.”
The foundation handles Senatobia’s municipally-owned industrial park and markets other industrial property in Tate County. The Main Street Program also falls under the foundation’s umbrella.
“Our 6.1% annual population growth for the last six to seven years has been manageable and consistent,” Mortimer said. “It’s natural for industrial and job growth to take place here.”
The combination of industry-friendly demographics, a lower cost of living index and area amenities contribute to industry appeal. In Senatobia, the population is about 6,000. Coldwater has about 1,500 residents. Nearly half of Tate countians are between the ages of 18 and 44. About 70% of the population have a high school degree, and 22% have undergraduate degrees. Arkabutla Lake and Reservoir are natural attractions and the area’s overall cost of living index is nearly 7% below the national average.
“We are very conscious of trying to attract new industry,” said Kay Minton, Senatobia city clerk.
In addition to the state’s industrial development incentives, such as free port warehousing, jobs tax credits and ad valorem tax exemptions, Senatobia provides local incentives for new industrial construction, such as fee waivers on building permits, water and sewer hook-up fees.
“It impacts the bottom line for companies considering building here and it shows good faith on the part of the city of Senatobia,” Mortimer said.
SAVING THE SMALL-TOWN ATMOSPHERE
The Coldwater River and river bottom separates Tate and Desoto counties. Perhaps there’s not the city bustle on the main roads of Senatobia and Coldwater as there is on Goodman Road in Horn Lake and Olive Branch, but keeping a small-town atmosphere has been a top priority, Mortimer said.
“We met with county and community leaders to establish goals and priorities,” she said. “We thought it was important to keep our small-town atmosphere, which we consider one of our assets. Both of our downtown areas are well-defined retail hubs.”
Once a stop on the Choctaw Indian Trail, the community of Senatobia became county seat of newly created Tate County in 1873. Two years later, bricks made by a local kiln owned by Williams Quinn were used to build the Tate County courthouse. Numerous additions and renovations have upgraded the historic courthouse over the years, which is currently undergoing a $2-million face-lift. The Heritage Museum of Tate County will be located there when completed.
Several ongoing projects have been designed to improve the appearance and traffic flow of downtown Senatobia. An ongoing fa