Daniels takes leadership role at MetroJackson CoC

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Published: December 11,2000

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

accommodate Nissan.

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

diplomatically.

“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

any problem.

“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

program.

“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

price.

“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 lwjeter@yahoo.com or (601) 853-3967.


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