Greenwood — This Delta community of less than 20,000 is getting quite a bit of good ink lately, and the national recognition is drawing the attention of site selection consultants worldwide.
In its May issue, Site Selection magazine listed the Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic Development Foundation among the Top 20 Economic Development Groups in 2004, selected from more than 15,000 economic development organizations in the U.S. The chosen groups were based on criteria ranging from total capital investment and total jobs created to a proven ability to generate breakthrough deals.
“This is a great honor for our organization and our community as well as for our allies such as the Delta Council, Mississippi Development Authority, Delta Electric, Greenwood Public Utilities, Rural Development Administration and Entergy Mississippi, who worked hard to support our efforts,” said foundation chairman Donnie Brock. “Economic development is a team effort and will not take place without strong leadership from both public and private officials. We certainly have that in Greenwood and Leflore County.”
In 2003, Site Selection also named Greenwood among its top 100 small communities for significant new job announcements.
Last year, the magazine moved the city into a micropolitan category, and was again named on its Top 100 list. Tupelo was the only other Mississippi community to receive the honor for two consecutive years, said foundation director Robert Ingram.
“It’s highly unusual to receive that type recognition any year, much less two years in a row,” said Ingram. “It proves that we can compete with anyone in the world for the creation of new jobs. It’s a desirable and good place to do business.”
Last year, the foundation recruited and helped locate a diverse group of companies representing distribution, metalworking, woodworking, automotive and customer service, and helped expand existing companies in value-added agricultural and metalworking products. As a result, area unemployment rates are currently at a 30-year low.
“The Delta has gotten into trouble in the past by having all its eggs in one basket,” said Ingram. “We don’t want that in Greenwood. We want to diversify the whole economy, and to help everyone in the community increase their standard of living.”
In its winter 2005 issue, Southern Business & Development (SB&D) magazine listed Greenwood second on its list of Ten Really Cool Small Southern Markets, describing it as “the land of magnolias, manners, colorful characters and warm welcomes. But businesses also know it as the land of opportunity.”
Greenwood played an integral role in the Mississippi Delta being listed as one of SB&D’s Ten Comeback Kids for its improving economic picture in the region and Top Ten Stories for the region’s automotive deals.
Public and private leadership
“Public and private leadership working hand in hand has been the key to this success, plus we’ve been a little bit lucky,” said Ingram, who said the region suffered greatly in 2001 and 2002 when several high-profile plants closed.
“Sometimes, adversity leads you to great things. We were left with a large and available workforce, one that was trained, experienced and willing to get back to work. The closures also put some very good buildings back on the market. We had key ingredients to sell, and I guess we’ve done a good job of selling.”
Today, Leflore County is home to five international headquarters, including Viking Range and Milwaukee Electric. Both produce the highest quality products worldwide in their respective categories.
“This good publicity has certainly gotten people’s attention,” said Ingram. “But we couldn’t have done any of this without the great help of many people, who did everything we asked for.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at firstname.lastname@example.org.