JACKSON — When Noel Daniels takes over as chairman of the MetroJackson Chamber of
Commerce in January, the focus will be on balancing existing industry needs with plans to
As co-owner, vice president and general manager of Gray-Daniels Ford in Brandon, president of
Rankin First Economic Development Authority and Foundation, chairman of the Mississippi Motor
Vehicle Commission, board member of The United Way of the Capital Area and Rankin Medical
Center, Rotarian and a married father of two, Daniels is accustomed to juggling responsibilities
“I want to make sure that, while we are preparing for Nissan, we are taking care of existing business,
too,” Daniels said.
Duane O’Neill, president of the chamber since 1992, said the chamber should fulfill dual roles without
“When the Nissan plant and related activity comes to reality, the impact is going to be great on our
metro community, and it is the chamber’s challenge to help coordinate the preparation for the changes
that are necessary, and to maximize the positive impact it will have on this area,” he said.
Economic development activity will remain a priority in 2001, Daniels said.
“We work every entity in economic development, and if a company is considering the metro Jackson
area, we’ll get it in one of those spots,” Daniels said. “For instance, MEDA (Metro Economic
Development Authority) was instrumental in getting the GM plant in Brandon.
“The Nissan plant is already coming, and now we’re working with the companies that supply them.”
The MetroJackson Chamber of Commerce will focus on four legislative initiatives next year —
supporting a local option funding source, funding for the Railroad Revitalization Act, funding for storm
drainage districts and inclusion of recreation into the local government capital improvement loan
“This year, it’s imperative to see local option funding legislation passed because of the infrastructure
needs in the metro community with new economic development,” said O’Neill. “The mayors in the
metro community are very much involved in the legislative agenda. They, and the chamber itself, have
been the driving force behind these initiatives. And of course, we’ll look at other issues as they arise.
We were behind the teacher’s pay increase last year, and if the department of labor is an issue again,
we’ll be involved in that, too.”
The chamber’s workforce development task force will continue to monitor existing training classes and
facilitate new ones, Daniels said.
“Nissan is not really looking for unemployed people,” he said. “Nissan is looking for employed
people, and they’re going to take some people that work for other companies, I’m sure. We’ll continue
to work hard with the junior colleges and trade shows to keep the right workforce in place for the
demand that our existing companies have, and for the demand Nissan will have.”
Next year, the MetroJackson Chamber of Commerce will publish a newcomer’s guide to assist the
influx of new residents to the metropolitan area. The chamber’s newly redesigned and interactive Web
site, newsletters and mail-outs include a member directory, listed categorically and alphabetically.
Chamber Plus offers member companies with few employees major medical insurance at a reduced
“I want to get the word out about the benefits our chamber offers, some of which our members aren’t
even aware,” Daniels said. “At the same time, new businesses that will be coming to town will have
employees that are new to the area who want to know about school systems, hospitals, and financial
institutions. All of the information will be funneled through the chamber.”
Daniels, who was raised in northeast Louisiana and attended Louisiana Tech University, is a past
recipient of the Mississippi Power & Light’s Community Leadership Award, former Mississippi
Industrial Volunteer of the Year, former Mississippi Volunteer of the Year for the Southern Industrial
Development Council and 1996 Distinguished Service Award for Human and Social Service for the
Division of Aging Adult Service.
“For a metro chamber of commerce, Noel brings the perfect match of a metro vision to the leadership
position,” O’Neill said. “He is well respected in the business community across all three counties and
has been one of the proponents of metro cooperation during my entire time here. He was one of the
original founders of the Metro Economic Development Alliance, and is partly responsible for the
cooperation that exists in the economic development arena. He will be a fantastic chairman for this
chamber of commerce for 2001.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at email@example.com or (601) 853-3967.