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2001 expected to be a big year for community

Pearl economy to see more growth, officials say

PEARL — By all indications, the Pearl economy is in for another very good year, according to Tom Burt, executive director of the Pearl Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re looking for a big 2001,” he said.

Already the old Red Hot & Blue Restaurant on U.S. 80 has been taken over by another company, and work is underway to get someone into the old Heilig Meyers location.

And a ribbon-cutting was held recently for the grand opening of Office Depot along that same stretch of road.

“We anticipate further growth and we have no reason to believe the economy is slowing down in Pearl. Building permits are up so it’s looking bright over here.”

Sales tax revenues are up as well, Burt said. In fact, they’re at an all-time high.

“That’s what you feed your economy on,” he said.

So, Burt has no anticipation of a slowdown in Pearl along U.S. 80 other than the “norm,” he said.

“It’s (the economy has) been real good to us, and we’re still growing and getting bigger and better all the time.”

And of course there are other areas in Pearl aside from U.S. 80 that have experienced a great amount of growth as well.

The city now has 11 motels in town, with a couple more in the works.

As for the new Office Depot, Burt said its opening will increase the tax base in the community.

“I was there the day they opened,” he said. “The lines were backed up. They didn’t slow down for lunch.”

According to Burt, Office Depot is still in the process of hiring, and its number of employees will be somewhere around 100 when the entire process is finished.

“It’s a big store, and it’s one of those kinds of stores you like to have in your community,” he said.

The chamber has been working closely with the city, the mayor and board of aldermen as well as with Rankin First Economic Development Agency to get someone into the old Heilig Meyers location, which was formerly the city’s Wal-Mart.

“We don’t want just anybody,” Burt said.

Mayor looking for a 4%-5%

growth in sales tax collections

Pearl Mayor Jimmy Foster is also looking forward to 2001, and foresees at least a 4% or 5% growth in sales tax.

“So far through the first quarter it’s running a little above that,” he said. “We had 8% or 9% growth in the past years. It’s maybe down to a four or five percent growth. It’s holding its own right now here in Pearl anyway.”

There are some other possibilities across from Office Depot as well, Foster said. And more growth is expected in the Airport Metroplex around January and February as new businesses move in. Construction is starting on one business in particular there this month.

“We expect it (the economy’s growth) to continue,” Foster said. “It may not be on as large a scale as it has been, but I look forward in the next six to seven months for it to get back to the level it has been.”

Pearl’s growing economy

reflection of the county’s

Tom Troxler, executive director of Rankin First, said the economy in Pearl reflects the economy of all of Rankin County, and looks forward to continued growth at least for the foreseeable future, and not just commercial growth but residential as well.

“I see continued growth in retail sales and population as more and more retailers start to take advantage of the growing population base (in Pearl),” Troxler said.

Contact MBJ staff writer Elizabeth Kirkland at ekirkland@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1042.

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